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\NLY a moment before, in the dead of 
night, she had been awakened by a 
strange scraping noise. Her heart thump- 
ing wilJly she looked fearfully around the room, 
but at first could see nothing. Suddenly her heart 
stopped beating — for there a' he window was the 
THING — awful, inhuman, its two hands clawing frantically at 
the gtassl 

She shook in terror — for she knew only too well what had hap. 
pened to others! Now she was ar its mercy! 

What, indeed, was this weird thing of efril? What was its un- 
canny pow?r.' What awtul fate by ahead ot this beautiful girl, 
alone and unprotected/ 

This and hundred* of other amazing cases that 
only Scotland Yard can solve await you in these 
thrilling books here offered for the first time in a uniform binding in 

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By CHARLES BARRY— W.S. MASTERMAN — H. C. BAILEY 

12 Gripping Volumes of the Most Puzzling Mysteries 
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Ah 



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341 

Y. 



They Told Him SalesmenWeieM 

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tft. During his lunch hour Ed started to read a little 
book be bad brought to work with him. , 

"It's book oalled 'The Key To Master Salesmanship,* 
Bill." he told me. "It's the most amazing; thing I ever 
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Yon ought to send for a copy yourself. It's free." 

"Buhl" said Luke Jones. ''Does that book tell you 
bow to become a salesmaayf*' 
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tku way to be a good salesman." 

Id hut smiled at that, but he said nothing. Soon after- 
wan! he quit the shop, and we forgot about him. And 
taea hurt night, I met Ed again— driving a snappy new 
ssssn and dressed like a million dollars. 

"Tor Pete's sake," I said. "What arc you doing nowa-/ 
Ws, Edf" He smiled. "Cily sales manager for 'the Steel 
Castings Company," he told me. "What are you doing?" 
. "Stfll at the shop," I replied. ,4' But what I want to 
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CastJagir They're one of the biggest firms in the busi- 

U smiled again. "Remember that book on Salesmanship 
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's*^ three months 

night!" I 'said. "And Luke and I arc still 
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VOL. Ill, No. 3 



CONTENTS 



SEPTEMBBR, ISM 



COVER DESIGN H. W. WESSOLOWSKI 

Pmmted im Wuter.Colort from o Sceme im "Maroomed Under tke Sea." 

A PROBLEM IN COMMUNICATION MILES J. BRBUBR, MJ3. 33 

Tke Delivery of Hit Country into tkt ClmUktt of a MerciUtt, Vllra-Modtrm Religion 
Cam Bt Prtvtmltd Only by Dr. Hagstrom's Dtcipkerimg cm Extraordinary Code. 

J ETTA OF THE LOWLANDS ° RAY CUMMINCS )U 

Fantastic and Simisltr Art lit Lowlands imlo Wkick Pkitip Croat Detctmdt em Hit 
Dangerous Assignment. ( Beginning " Three-Part Novel.) 

THE TERRIBLE TENTACLES OP L-472 SEWBLL PBASLEE WRIGHT HI 

Commander Jokn Hanson of tkt Special Patrol Service Records Another of Hit Tkriil- 
tug Interplanetary Assignments. 

MAROONBD UNDER THE SEA PAUL ERNST Mt 

Tkrn-Mim Stick Omt a Strange and Desperate Adventure Among Ike IncreJible Mom- 
litre of Ike Dark Sea Floor. (A Complete Novelette.) 

THE MURDBR MACHINE HUGH B. CAVE 177 

Four Lives Lay Helpline Before tke Murder Machine, Ike Uncanny Device by Wkick 
Hypnotic TkOngkl-Weves Are Filtered Tkrougk Men's Mimas to Mold Tkem Imlo 
Murdering Tools. 

THE ATTACK FROM SPACE CAPTAIN S. P. MEEK 3*4 

From a Far World Camt Momstroms Invaders Who Were All tke Mori Terrlfyktg 
Because Invisible. 

EARTH, THE MARAUDER ARTHUR J. BURKS «M 

Martian Fire-Balls end tke Terrific Moon- Cubes Wreak Trtmemdomi Destruction en 
Helpless Earth in Ike Final Death Struggle of tke Warrimg Worlds. (CanelniiaL) 

THE READERS' CORNER ALL OF US «S 

A Meelimg Placf for Readers ' of Astounding Stories. 



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By JOHNSTON MeCULLEY { 

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/ Address 

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A man past 40 



BECAUSE of his position, the man "higher 
up" may have halitosis (unpleasant breath) 
and get away with it. But with the employee 
whose shoes are easy to (ill it's .a different story. 
Records show that halitosis is excuse enough for 
letting a man go — especially if his work puts him 
in contact witn others whom he may offend. 

There can be no denying that it is a definite 
barrier to business and social progress. 

And the insidious thing about it is that you 
yourself never know when you have it. It simply 
cannot be detected by its victims. 

Remember, also, that not one person in ten 
escapes halitosis entirely. Every day in even 
normal mouths, conditions capable of causing 
halitosis are likely to arise or are already present. 

"Decaying or poorly cared for teeth may cause 
it. Or pyorrhea and catarrh. Or excesses of eat- 
ing or drinking which cause temporary stomachic 



disorders. 

The one way to make sure that your breath a 
beyond suspicion is to use Lis terine as a mouth 
wash and gargle, every morning and every night, 
and between times before meeting others. 

Listcrinc ends halitosis because it is an anti- 
septic and germicide* which attacks fermentation, 
decay, ana infections which cause odors. It is 
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daily. Common decency demands it. Lambert 
Pharmacal Company, 9t. Louis, Mo., U. S. A- 



•Though safe to use full 
even the resistant Staphy! 



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ecus Aureus (pus) 
and Bacillus Typhosus* (typhi germs in counts 
ranging up to 200,000,000 in 1 5 seconds. (FuBSl 
time science has accurately recorded.) 



Lister ine ends halitosis 

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/ taw the famous Sri twee Temple witk its constant stream of worshippers. 



A Problem in Communication 

By Mile* J. Breuer, M. D. 



PART I 
The Science Community 

(This part is related by 
Peter Hagstrom, Ph.D.) 



r 



|HE ability to communicate 
ideas from one individual to 
another," said a professor of 
sociology to his class, "is the 
principal distinc- 
tion between 
human beings and 
their brute for- 
bears. The in- 
crease and refine- 
ment of this abil- 



The delivery of his country into the 
clutches of n merciless, ultra-modern 
religion, ud be prevented only by Dr. 
tiftfatrom's deciphering en extraordinary 



ity to communicate is an index of the 
degree of civilization df a people. The 
more civilized a people, the mere per- 
fect their ability- to communicate, 
especially under difficulties and in 
emergencies." 

As usual, the observation burst harm- 
lessly over the heads of most of the 
students in the class, who were preoc- 
cupied with more immediate things — 
with the evening's 
movies and the 
week-end's dance. 
But upon two 
young men in the 
class, it made a 
powerful imprea- 



293 



294 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



sion. It crystallized within them cer- 
tain vague conceptions and brought 
them to a conscious focus, enabling the 
young men to turn formless dreams 
into concrete acts. That is why I take 
the position that the above enthusiastic 
words of this sociology professor, 
whose very name I have forgotten, were 
the prime moving influence •' which 
many years later succeeded in saving 
Occidental civilization from axatastro 
phe which would have been worse than 
death and destruction. 

ONE of these young men was my- 
self, and the other was my life- 
long friend and chum, Carl Benda, 
who saved his country by solving a 
tremendously difficult scientific puzzle 
in a simple way, by sheer reasoning 
power, and without apparatus. The 
sociology professor struck a respon- 
sive chord in us; for since our ear- 
liest years we had wigwagged to each 
other as Boy Scouts, learned the finger 
alphabet of the deaf and dumb so that 
we might maintain communication 
during school hours, strung a telegraph 
wire between our two homes, admired 
Poe's "Gold Bug" together and de- 
vised boyish cipher codes in which to 
send each other postcards when chance 
separated us. But we had always felt 
a little foolish about what we consi- 
dered our childish hobbies, until the 
professor's words suddenly roused us 
to the realization that we were a highly 
civilized pair of youngsters. 

Not only did we then and there cease 
feeling guilty about our secret ciphers 
and our dots and dashes, but the deter- 
mination was bom within us to make 
of communication our life's work. It 
turned out that both of us actually did 
devote our lives to the cause of com- 
munication; but the passing years saw 
us engaged in widely and curiously 
divergent phases of the work. Thirty 
years later, I was Professor of the Psy- 
chology of Language at Columbia 
University, and Benda was Mainten- 
ance Engineer of the Bell Telephone 
Company of New York City; and on 



his knowledge and skill depended the 
continuity and stability of that stu- 
pendously complex traffic, the tele- 
phone communication of Greater New 
York. 

SINCE our ambitious cravings were 
satisfied in our everyday work* 
and since now ordinarily available 
methods of communication sufficed 
our needs, we rto longer felt impelled 
to signal across the housetops with 
semaphores nor to devise ciphers that 
would defy solution. But we still 
kept up our intimate friendship and 
our intense interest in our beloved 
subject. We were just as close chums 
atj the age of fifty as we had been at 
ten, and just as thrilled at new ad- 
vances in communication: at tele- 
vision, at the international language, 
at the supposed signals from Mars. 

That was the state of affairs be- 
tween us up to a year ago. At about 
that time Benda resigned his position 
with the New York Bell Telephone 
Company to accept a place as the 
Director of Communication in the 
Science Community. This, for many 
reasons, was a most amazing piece of 
news to myself and to anyone who 
knew Benda. 

Of course, it was commonly known 
that Benda was being sought by Uni- 
versities and corporations ; I know per- 
sonally of several tempting offers he 
had received. But the New York Bell 
is a wealthy corporation and had thus 
far managed to hold Benda, both by 
the munificence of, its salary and by 
the attractiveness of the work it offered 
him That the Science Community 
would want Benda was easy to under- 
stand; but, that it cobld outbid the 
New York Bell, was, to say the least, 
a surprise. 

Furthermore, that a man like Benda 
would want to have anything at all to 
do with the Science Community 
seemed strange enough in itself. He 
had the most practical common sense- 
well-balanced habits of thinking and 
living, supported by an intellect •• 



A PROBLEM IN COMMUNICATION 



295 



dear and so keen that I knew of none 
to excel it. What the Science Com- 
munity was, no one knew exactly; but 
that there waa something abnormal, 
fanatical, about it, no one doubted. 

THE Science Community, situated 
in Virginia, in the foothills of the 
Blue Ridge, had first been heard of 
many years ago, when it was already 
a going concern. At the time of which 
I now speak, the novelty had worn off, 
and no one paid any more attention to 
it than they do to Zion City or the 
Dunkards. By this time, the Science 
Community was a city of a million in- 
habitants, with a vast outlying area of 
farms and gardens. It was modern to 
the highest degree in construction and 
operation ; there was very little manual 
labor there; no poverty; every person 
had all the benefits of modern develop- 
ments in power, transportation, and 
communication, and of all other re- 
sources prqVided by scientific progress. 

So much, visitors and reporters were 
able to say. 

The rumors that it was a vast social- 
istic organization, without private 
property, with equal sharing of all 
privileges, were never confirmed. It 
ia a curious observation that it was 
possible, in this country of ours, for 
a city to exist about which we knew so 
little. However, it seemed evident 
from the vast number and elaboration 
of public buildings, the perfection of 
community utilities such as transpor- 
tation, streets, lighting, and communi- 
cation, from the absence of individual 
homes and the housing of people in 
huge dormitories, that some different, 
less individualistic type of social or- 
ganization^than ours was involved. It 
was obvious that as an organization, 
the Science Community must also be 
wealthy. If any of its individual citi- 
zens were wealthy, no one knew it. 

I knew Benda as well as I knew my- 
self, and if I was sure of anything in 
my life, it was that he was not the type 
of man to leave a fifty thousand dollar 
job and join a communist city on an 



equal footing with the clerks in the 
stores. As it happens, I was also inti- 
mately acquainted with- John Edge- 
water Smith, recently Power Commis- 
sioner of New York City and the most 
capable power engineer in North 
America, who, following Benda by two 
or three months, resigned his position, 
and accepted what his letter termed 
the place of Director of Power in the 
Science Community. I was personally 
in a position to state that neither of 
these men could be lightly persuaded 
into such a step, and that neither of 
them would work for a small salary. 

BENDA'S first letter to me stated 
that he was at the Science Com- 
munity on a visit. He had heard of 
the place, and while at Washington on 
business had taken advantage of the 
opportunity to drive out and see it. 
Fascinated by the equipment he saw 
there, he had decided to stay a few 
days and study it. The next letter an- 
nounced his acceptance of the position. 
I would give a month's salary to get a 
look at those letters now; but I neg- 
lected to preserve them. I should like 
to see them because I am curious as 
to whether they exhibit the character- 
istics of the subsequent letters, some 
of which I now have. 

As I have stated, Benda and" I had 
been on the most intimate terms for 
forty years. His letters had always 
been crisp and direct, and thoroughly 
familiar and confidential. I do not 
know just how many letters I received 
from him from the Science Community 
before I noted the difference, but I 
have one from the third month of his 
stay there (he wrote every two or three 
weeks), characterized by a verbosity 
that sounded strange for him. He 
seemed to be writing merely to' cover 
the sheet, trifles such as he had never 
previously considered worth writing 
letters about. Four pages of letter 
conveyed not a single idea. Yet Benda 
was, if anything, a man of ideas. 

There followed several' months of 
letters like that: a lot of words, eva- 



296 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



■ion of coming to the point about any- 
thing; just conventional letters. Benda 
was the last man to write a conven- 
tional letter. Yet, it was Benda writ- 
ing them; gruff little expressions of 
his, clear ways of looking at even the 
veriest trifles, little allusion to our 
common past: these things could 
neither have been written by anyone 
else, nor written under compulsion 
from without. Something had changed 
Benda. 

I PONDERED on it a good deal, and 
could think of no hypothesis to ac- 
count for it. In the meanwhile. New 
York City lost a third technical man / 
to the Science Community. Donald 
Francisco, Commissioner of the Water 
Supply, a sanitary engineer of inter- 
national standing, accepted a position 
in the Science Community as Water 
Director. I did not know whether to 
laugh and. compare it to the National 
Baseball League's trafficking in "big 
names," or to hunt for some sinister 
danger sign in it. Bnt, as a result of 
my ponderings, I decided to visit 
Benda at The Science Community. 

I wrote him to that effect, and almost 
decided to change my mind about the 
visit because of the cold evasiveness of 
the reply I received from him. My 
first impulse on reading his indifferent, 
lackadaisical comment on my proposed 
visit was to feel offended and deter- 
mine to let him alone' and never see 
him again. The average man would 
have done that, but my long-years of 
training in psychological interpreta- 
tion told me that a character and a 
friendship built during forty years 
does not change in six months, and 
that there must be some other explana- 
tion for this. I wrote him that I was 
coming. I found that the best way- to 
reach the Science Community was to 
take a bus out from Washington. It 
involved a drive of about fifty miles 
northwest, through a picturesque sec- 
tion of the country. The latter part of 
the drive took me past settlements 
that looked as though they might be in 



about the same stage of progress as 
they had been during the American 
Revolution. The city of my destina- 
tion- was back in the hills, and very 
much isolated. During the last ten 
miles we met no traffic at all, and I was 
the only passenger left in the bus. 
Suddenly the vehicle stopped. 

"Far as we got" the driver shouted. 

I looked about in consternation. All 
around were low, wild-looking hills. 
The road went on ahead through a 
narrow pass. 

"They'll pick you up in a little bit," 
the driver said as he turned around 
and drove off, leaving me standing 
there with my bag, very much aston- 
ished at it all. I 

H,E was right. A Laa\\, neat-look- 
. ing bus drove through the pass 
and stopped for me.' As I got in, the 
driver mechanically .turned around and 
drove into the. hills again. 

"They took up ray ticket on the 
other bus," I said to the driver. ''What 
do I owe you?" 

"Nothing," he said curtly. "Fill that 
out." He handed me a i card. . 

An impertinent thing, that card was. 
Besides asking for my name, address, 
nationality, vocation, and position, it 
requested that I state whom I was visit- 
ing iin the Science Community, the 
purpose of my visit, the nature of my 
business, how long I intended to s„ay; 
did I have a place to stay arranged for, 
and if so, where and through whom. 
It looked for all the world as though 
they had something to conceal ; Czarist 
Russia couldn't beat that for keeping 
track of people and prying into their 
business. Sign here, the card said. 

It annoyed me, but I filled it out, 
and, by the time I was through, the 
bus was out of the hills, traveling up 
the valley of a small river; I am not 
familiar enough with, northern Vir- 
ginia to say which river it was. There 
was much machinery and a few peopfc 
in the broad fields. In the distance 
ahead was a mass of chimneys and the 
cupolas of iron-works, bnt no smoke. 



A PROBLEM IN COMMUNICATION 



297 



There were power-line towers with 
high-tension insulators, and, far ahead, 
the masses of huge elevators and big, 
square buildings. Soon I came in sight 
of a veritable forest of huge windmills. 

In a few moments, the huge build- 
ings loomed up over me; the bus en- 
tered a street of the city abruptly 
from the country. One moment on a 
country road, the next moment among 
towering buildings. We sped along 
swiftly through a busy metropolis, 
bright, airy, efficient looking. The 
traffic was dense but quiet, and I was 
confident that most of the vehicles 
were electric; for there was no noise 
nor gasoline odor. Nor was there any 
■moke. Things looked airy, comfort- 
able, efficient; but rather monotonous, 
dull. There was a total lack of archi- 
tectural interest. The buildings were 
yat square blocks, like neat rows of 
neat boxes. But, it all moved smooth- 
ly, quietly, with- wonderful efficiency. 

MY first thought was to look closely 
at the people who swarmed the 
■treeta of this strange city. Their 
faces were solemn, _ and their clothes 
were solemn. All seemed intently 
busy, going somewhere, or doing some- 
thing ; -there was no standing about, no 
idle sauntering. And look whichever 
way I might, everywhere there was the 
ssme blue serge, on men and women 
alike, in all directions, as far as I could 
tee. 

The bus stopped before a neat, 
square building of rather smaller size, 
sod the next thing I knew, Benda was 
running down the steps to meet me. 
He was his old gruff, enthusiastic self. 

"Glad to see you, Hagstrom, old 
socks!" he shouted, and gripped my 
band with two of his. "I've arrange^ 
for a room for you, and we'll have/ a 
good old visit, and I'll show you 
•round this town." / 

I looked at him closely. He looked 
healthy and well cared-for, all except 
for ("couple of new lines of worry on 
bis face. Undoubtedly that worn look 
■eat some sort of trouble. 



PART n 

The New Religiod* 

(This part is interpolated by the author 
into Dr. Hagstrom's narrative.) 

EVERY great religion has as fts 
psychological reason for exist- 
ence the mission of compensating for 
some crying, unsatisfied human need. 
Christianity spread and grew among 
people who were, at the time, perse- 
cuted subjects or slaves of Rome; and 
it flourished through the Middle Ages 
at a time when life held for the indivi- 
dual chiefly pain, uncertainty, and be- 
reavement. Christianity kept the com- 
mon man consoled and mentally bal- 
anced by minimizing the importance 
of life on earth and offering compen- 
sation afterwards and elsewhere. 

A feeble nation of idle dreamers, 
torn by a chaos of intertribal feuds 
within, menaced by powerful, con- 
quest-lusting nations from without, 
Arabia was enabled by Islam, the reli- 
gion of her prophet Mohammed, to 
unite all her sons into an intense loyal- 
ty to one cause, and to turn her dream- 
stuff into reality by carrying her 
national pride and honor beyond her 
boundaries and spreading it over half 
the known world. 

The ancient Greeks, in despair over 
the frailties of human emotion and the 
unbecomingness of worldly conduct, 
which their brilliant minds enabled 
them to recognize clearly but which 
they found themselves powerless to 
subdue, endowed the gods, whom they 
worshipped, with all of their own pas- 
sions and weaknesses, and thus the 
foolish behavior of the gods consoled 
thetrTfor their own obvious shortcom- 
ings. So it goes throughout all of the 
world's religions. 

In the middle of the twentieth cen- 
tury there were in the civilized world, 
millions of people in whose lives 
Christianity had ceased to play any 
part. Yet, psychically — remember, 
"psyche", means "soul" — they were 
just as sick and unbalanced, just as 



298 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



much in need of some compensation aa 
were the subjects of the early Roman 
empire, or the Arabs in the Middle 
Ages. They were forced to work at 
the strained and monotonous pace of 
machines; they were the slaves, body 
and soul, of machines ; they lived with 
machines and lived like machines — they 
were expected to be machines. A mech- 
anized mode of life set a relentless pace 
for them, while, just as in all the past 
ages, life and love, the breezes and the 
blue sky called to them : but they could 
not respond. They had to drive' ma- 
chines so that machines could serve 
them. Minds were cramped and emo- 
tions were starved', but hands must go 
on guiding levers and keeping machines 
in operation. Lives were reduced to 
such a mechanical routine that men 
wondered how long human minds and 
human bodies could stand the restraint. 
There is a good deal in the writings 
of the times to show that life was be- 
coming almost unbearable for, three- 
fourths of humanity. 

IT is only natural, therefore, that 
Rohan, the prophet of the new re- 
ligion, found followers more rapidly 
than he could organize them. About 
ten years before the visit of Dr. Hag- 
strom to his friend Benda, Rohan and 
his new religion had been much in the 
newspapers. Rohan was a Slovak, ap- 
parently well educated in Europe. 
When he first attracted attention to 
himself, he was foreman in a steel plant 
at Birmingham, Alabama. He was pop- 
ular as an orator, and drew unheard-of 
crowds to his lectures. 

He preached of Science as Cod, an 
all-pervading, inexorably systematic 
Being, the true Center and Motive- 
Power, of the Universe ; a Being- who 
saw men and pitied them because they 
could not help committing inac- 
curacies. The Science God was help- 
ing man become more perfect. Even 
now, men were much more accurate and 
systematic than they had been a hun- 
dred years ago; men's lives were or- 
dered and rhythmic like natural laws. 



not like the chaotic emotions of beasts 
and savages. 

Somehow, he soon dropped out of the 
'attention of the great mass of the pub- 
lic. Of course, he did so intentionally, 
when his ideas began to crystallize and 
his plans for his future organization 
began to form. At first he had a sort 
of church in Birmingham, called The 
Church of the Scientific God. There 
never was anything cheap nor blatant 
about him. When he moved his church 
from Birmingham to the Lovett Branch 
Valley in northern Virginia, he was 
hardly noticed. But with him went 
seven thousand people, to form the 
nucleus of the Science Community. 

SINCE then, some feature writer for 
a metropolitan Sunday paper his 
occasionally written Up the Science 
Community, both from its physical 
and its human aspects. From these re- 
ports, the outstanding; bit of evidence 
is that Rohan believes intensely in his 
own religion, and that his followers 
are all loyal worshippers of the Science 
God. They conceive the earth to be t 
workshop in which men serve Science, 
their God, serving a sort of 'apprentice- 
ship during which He perfects them 
to the state of ideal machines. To be 
a perfect, machine, always accurate, 
with no distracting emotions, no get- 
ting off the track — that was the ideal 
which the Great God Science required 
of his worshippers. To be a perfect 
machine, or a perfect cog in a machine, 
to get rid of all individuality, all dis- 
turbing sentiment, that was their ides 
of supreme happiness. Despite the ob- 
vious narrowness it involved, there 
was something sublime in the concep- 
tion of this rel igion. It certainly had 
nothing in" common with the "Chris- 
tian Science" that was in vogue during 
the early years of the twentieth Cen- 
tury : it towered with a noble grandeur 
above that feeble little sham. 

The Science Community was organ- 
ized like a machine ; and all men played 
their parts, in government, in labor, is 
administration, in production, like per- 



A/Problem in communication 



299 



feet coga and accurate wheels, and the 
machine functioned perfectly. The de- 
votees were described as fanatical, but 
happy. They certainly were well 
trained and efficient. The Science 
Community grew. In ten years it had 
a million people, and was a world- 
wide wonder of civic planning and or- 
ganisation ; it contained so many aston- 
ishing developments in mechanical 
service to human welfare, and comfort 
that it waa considered as a sort of 
model of the future city. The common 
man there was provided with science- 
produced luxuries, in his daily life, 
that were in the rest of the world the 
privilege of the wealthy few — but he 
used his increased energy and leisure 
in serving the more devotedly his God, 
Science, who had made machines. 
There was a great temple in the city, 
the shape of a huge dynamo-generator, 
whose interior waa worked out in a 
scheme of mechanical devices, and with 
music, lights, and odors to help in the 
worship. 

WHAT the world knew the least 
about was that this religion was 
becoming militant. Its followers spoke 
of the heathen without, and were hor- 
rified at the prevalence of the sin of 
individualism. They were inspired 
with the mission that the message of 
Cod — scientific perfection — must be 
carried to the whole world. But, know- 
ing that vested interests, governments, 
invested capital, and established reli- 
gions would oppose them and render 
my real progress impossible, they 
waited. They studied the question, 
looking for some opportunity to spread 
the gospel of their beliefs, prepared to 
do so by force, finding their justifica- 
tion in their belief that millions of 
•offerers needed 'the comforts that 
their religion had given them. Mean- 
while, their numbers, grew. 

Rohan was Chief Engineeiy which 
position was equal in honor and dig- 
nity to that of Prophet or High Priest 
He was a busy, hard-worked man, black 
haired and gaunt, small of stature and 



fiery eyed: he looked rather like an 
overworked department-store manager 
rather than like a prophet. He was 
finding his hands more full every day, 
both because of the extraordinary fer- 
tility of his own plans and ideas, and 
because the Science Community was 
growing so rapidly. Among this 
heterogenous mass of proselyte stran- 
gers that poured into the city and was 
efficiently absorbed into the machine, 
it was yet difficult to find executives, 
leaders, men to put in charge of big 
things. And he needed constantly 
more and more of such men. 

THAT was' why Rohan went to 
Benda, and subsequently to others 
like Benda. Rohan had a deep-knowl- 
edge of human nature. He did not ap- 
proach Benda with the offer of a 
magnanimous salary, but came into 
Benda's office asking for a consultation 
on some of the puzzling communica- 
tion problems of the Science Com- 
munity. Benda became interested, and 
on his own initiative offered to visit 
the Science Community, saying that 
he had to be in Washington anyway in 
a few days. Wheryhe saw what the 
conditions were in the Science Com- 
munity, he became fascinated by its 
advantages over New York ; a new sys- 
tem to plan from the ground up ; no 
obsolete installation to wrestle with; 
an absolutely free hand for the en- 
gineer in charge; no politics to play; 
no concessions to antiquated city con- 
struction nor to feeble-minded city 
administration — just a dream of an op- 
portunity. He almost asked for the 
job himself, but Rohan was tactful 
enough to offer it, and the salary, 
though princely, was hardly given a 
thought. 

For many weeks, Benda was absorbed 
in his job, to the exclusion of all else. 
He sent his money to his New York 
bank and had his family move in and 
live with him. He was happy in his 
communication problems. 

"Give me a problem in communica- 
tion and you make me happy," he wrote 



300 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



to HagBtrom in one of bis early letters. 

He had completed a certain division 
of his work on the Science Commu- 
nity's communication system, and it 
occurred to him that a few days' relaxa- 
tion would do him good. A run up to 
New York would be just the thing. 

To his amazement, he was not per- 
mitted to board the outbound bus. 

"You^l need orders from the Chief 
Engineer's office," the driver said. 




ENDA went to Rohan. 
"Am I a prisoner 7' he demanded, 



with his characteristic directness. 

"An embrassing situation," the suave 
Rohan admitted, very calmly and at his 
ease. "You see, I'm nothing like a dic- 
tator here. I have no arbitrary power. 
Everything runs by system, and you're 
a sort of exception. No one knows 
exactly how to classify you. Neither 
do I. But, I can't break a rule. That 
is sin. 

"What rule? I want to go to New 
York." 

"Only those of the Faith who have 
reached the third degree can come and 
go. No one can get that in less than 
three years." 

"Then you got me in here W fraud ?" 
Benda asked bluntly. 

Rohan side-stepped gracefully. 

"You know our innermost secrets 
now," he explained. "Do you suppose 
there is any hope of your embracing 
the Faith?" 

Benda whirled on his heel and 
walked out. 

"I'll think about it I" he said, his 
voice snapping with sarcasm. 

Benda went back to his work in or- 
der to get his mind off the matter. He 
was a well-balanced man if he was any- 
thing ; and he knew that nothing could 
be accomplished by rash words or in- 
cautious moves against Rohan and his 
organization. And on that day he met 
John Edgewater Smith. 

"You here?" Benda gasped. He los£ 
his equilibrium for a moment in con- 
•tecnation at the sight of his fellow- 
engineer. 



Smith was too elated to notice 
Benda's mood. 

"I've been here a week. This is cer- 
tainly an ideal opportunity in my line 
of work. Even in Heaven I never ex- 
pected to find such a chance." 

By this time Benda had regained 
control of himself. He decided to ny 
nothing to Smith for the time being. 

THEY did not meet- again for sev- 
eral weeks. In" the meantime 
Benda discovered that his mail was be- 
ing censored. At first he did not know 
that his letters, always typewritten, 
were copied and objectionable matter 
omitted, and his signature reproduced 
by the photo-engraving process, sep- 
arately each time. But before long, 
several letters came back to him rub- 
ber-stamped : "Not passable. Please 
revise." It took Benda two days to 
cool "down and rewrite the first letter. 
But outwardly no one would have ever 
known that there was anything amitt 
with him. 

However, he took to leaving his work 
for an hour or two a day and walking 
in the park, to think ont the matter. 
He didn't like it. This was about the 
time that Lj^. began to be a real issue at 
to who was the bigger man of the two, 
Rohan or Benda. But no signs of the 
issue appeared externally for many 
months. 

John Edgewater Smith realized 
sooner than Benda that he couldn't get 
out, because, not sticking to work so 
closely, he had made the attempt 
sooner. He looked very much worried 
when Benda next saw him. , 

"What's this? Do you know about 
it?" he shouted as soon as he had come 
within hearing distance of Benda. 

"What's the difference?" Bends 
replied causually. "Aren't you satis- 
fied?" 

Smith's face went blank. 

Benda came close 1 to him, linked 
arms, and led hftn to a broad vacant 
lawn in the par lei 

"Listen I" he said softly in Smith's ■ 
ear. "Don't you supdose these people 



A PROBLEM IN COMMUNICATION 



301 



who lock us in and censor oat'maB 
aren't smart enough to spy on what we 
say to each other?" 

'Our only hope," Benda continued, 
"is to learn all we can of what is going 
on here. Keep your eyes and ears 
open and meet me here iir a week. And 
now come on; we've been whispering 
here long enough." 

ODDLY enough, the first chie to the 
puzzle they were trying to solve 
was supplied by Francisco, New York's 
former Water Commissioner. Why 
were they being kept prisoners in the 
city? There must be more reason for 
holding them there than the fear that 
reformation would be carried out, for 
rJone of the three engineers knew any- 
thing about the Science Community 
that could be of any possible conse- 
quence to outsiders. They had all 
stuck rigidly to their own jobs. 

They met Francisco, very bine and 
dejected, walking in the park Couple 
of months later. They had been hav- 
ing weekly meetings, feeling that more 
f requ e nt rendezvous might excite sus- 
picion. Francisco was overjoyed to 
tec them. 

"Been trying to figure out why they 
want us," he said. "There is some- 
thing deeper than the excuse they have 
made; that rot about a perfect system 
and no breaking of rules may be true, 
but it has nothing to do with us. Now, 
here are three of us, widely admitted 
is having good heads on us. We've 
got to solve this." 

"The first fact to work on," be con- 
tinued, is that there is no real job for 
me here. This city has no water prob- 
lem that cannot be worked oat by an 
engineer's office clerk. Why are they 
holding me here, paying me a profligate 
salary, for a job that is a jofie for a 
grown-up man? There's something 
behind it that is not apparent on the 
surface." 

' The weekly meetings of the three 
engineers became' an established insri- 
urtion. Mindful that their conversa- 
tion was doubtless the object of atten- 



tion .on the part of the ruling puwci a 
of the city through spies and concealed 
microphones, they were careful to dis- 
cuss trivial matters most of the time, 
and mentioned their problem only when 
alone in the open spaces of the park. 

AFTER weeks of effort had pro- 
duced no results, they arrived at 
the conclusion that they would have 
to do some spying themselves. The 
great temple, shaped like a dynamo- 
generator attracted' their attention as 
the first possibility for obtaining infor- 
mation. Benda, during his work with 
telephone and television installation, 
found that the office of some sort of 
ruling council or board of directors 
were located there. Later he found 
that it was called the Science Staff. 
He managed to slip in several concealed 
microphone detectors and wire them to 
a. private receiver an his desk, doing 
all the work with his own hands under 
the pretense of hunting for a cleverly 
contrived short-circuit that his subor- 
dinates had failed to find. 

"They open their meeting," he said, 
reporting several days of listening to 
bis comrades; "with a lot of religious 
stuff. They really believe they are 
chosen by God to perfect the earth. 
Their fanaticism has the Mohamme dans 
beat forty ways. As I get it from lis- 
tening in, this city is just a preliminary 
base from which to carry, forcibly, the 
gospel of Scientific Efficiency to the 
whole world. They have been divinely 
appointed to organize the earth. 

"The first thing on the program is 
the seizure' of New York City. And, 
it won't be long; I've heard the details 
of a cut-and-dried plan. When they 
have New York, the rest of America 
can be easily captured, for cities aren't 
as independent of each other as they 
used to be. Getting the rest of the 
world into their hands will then be 
merely a matter of routine; just a little 
time, and it will be done. Mohammed's 
wars weren't in it with this V 

Francisco and Smith stared at him 
aghast. These dull-faced, brae-serge- 



302 



ASTOUNDING STORIES * 



clad people did noMook -capable of it; 
unless possibly one noted "the fiery 
glint in -their eyes. A world-wide 
Crusade on a scientific basis I The idea 
left them weak and trembling. 

"Cot to learn more details before we 
can do anything," Benda said. "Come 
on; we've been whispering here long 
enough; they'll get suspicious." 
Benda's brain was now definitely pit- 
ted against this marvelous organiza- 
tion. 

MT'VK got itP Benda reported at a 
JL later meeting, "I pieced it to- 
gether from a few hours' listening. 
Devilish scheme 1 

"Can you imagine what would hap- 
pen in New York in case of a break- 
down in water-supply, electric power, 
and communication ? In an hour there 
would be a panic; in a day, the city 
would be a hideous shambles of suffer- 
ings '•tarvation, disease, and trampling 
m?" ; fi' - t Dante's 'Inferno would be a 
lovely little pleasure-resort in com- 
parison. 

"Also, have you ever stopped to think 
how few people there are in the world 
who understand the handling of these 
vital elements of our modem civilized 
organization sufficiently to keep them 
in operation? 1 There you have the 
scheme. Because- they do not want to 
destroy the city, but merely to threaten 
it, they are holding the three of us. 
A little skilful management will elim- 
inate all other possible men who could 
operate the city's machinery, except 
ourselves. We three will be placed in 
charge. A threat, perhaps a demon- 
stration in some limited section of 
what horrors are possible. The city 
is at their mercy, and promptly sur- 
renders. 

"An alternative plan was discussed : 
just a little quiet violence could 
eliminate those who are now in charge 
of the city's works, and the panic and 
horrors would commence. But, within 
an hour of the city's capitulation, the 
three of us could have things run- 
ning smoothly again. And there would 



be no New York ; in its place would be 
Science Community Number Two. 
From it they could step on to the next 

city." 

The other two stared at him. There 
was only one comment. 

"They seem to be sure that they 
could depend on us," Smith said. 

"They may be correct," Benda re- 
plied. "Would you stand by and see 
people perish if a turn of your hand 
could save them? You would, for the 
moment, forget the issue between the 
old order and the new religion." 

They separated, horrified by the 
ghastly simplicity of the plan. 

JUST following this, Benda received 
the teleg~~ an announcing the pros- 
pective visit of his lifelong friend. 
Dr. Hagstrom. He took it at once to 
Roman. 

"Will my friend be permitted to de- 
part again, if he once gets in here?" 
he demanded vrjth his customary di- 
rectness, y 

"It depends on you," Rohan replied 
blandly. "We want your friend to Bee 
our Community, and to go away and 
carry with him the nicest possible re- 
ports and descriptions of it to the 
world. I wonder, do I make myself 
dear?" * ^ 

"That means I've got' to feed him 
taffy while he's here?" Benda asked 
gruffly. 

"You choose to put it indelicately. 
He is to see and hear only such 
things about the Science Community 
as well please the world and impress 
it favorably. I am sure you will un- 
derstand that under no other circum- 
stances will he be permitted to leave 
here." 

Benda turned around abruptly and 
walked out without a word. 

"Just a moment," Rohan called 
after him. "I am sure you appreciate 
the fact that every precaution will be 
taken to hear the least word that you 
say to him during his stay here? You 
are watched only perfunctorily now. 
While he is here you will be kept 



A PROBLEM IN COMMUNICATION 



303 



track of carefully, and there will be 
three methods of checking everything 
you do or Say. I am sure you do not 
underestimate our caution in this mat- 
ter." 

Ben da spent the days intervening 
between then and the arrival of his 
friend Hagstrom, closed up in his of- 
fice, in intense study. He figured 
things on .pieces of paper, committed 
them to memory, and scrupulously 
burned the paper. Then he wandered 
about the park and plucked at leaves 
and twigs. 

PART III 
The Cipher Message 
(Related by Peter Hagstrom, Ph.D.) 

BENDA conducted me personally 
to a room very much like an 
ordinary hotel room. He was^glad to 
see me. I could tell that from his 
grip of welcome, from his pleased face, 
from the warmth in his voice, from 
the eager way in which he hovered 
around me. I sat down on a bed and 
he on a chair. 
"Now tell me all about it," I said. 
The room was very still, and in its 
privacy, following Benda's demonstra- 
tive welcome, I expected some confi- 
dential revelations. Therefore I was 
astonished. 

There isn't much to tell," he said 
gaily. "My work is congenial, fasci- 
nating, and there's enough of it to keep 
me out of mischief. The pay is good, 
and the life pleasant and easy." 

I didn't know what to say for a mo- 
ment. I had come there with my mind 
made up that there was something sus- 
picious afoot. But he seemed thor- 
oughly happy and satisfied. 

"Ill admit that I treated you a little 
shabbily in this matter of letters," he 
continued, "I suppose it is because 
I've had a lot of new and interesting 
problems on my mind, and it's been 
hard to get my mind down to writing 
letters. But I've got a good start on 
my job, and I'll promise to reform." 



I was at a loss to pursue that sub- 
ject any further. 

"Have you Been Smith and Fran- 
cisco?" I asked. 

He nodded. 

"How do they like it?" 

-'Both are enthusiastic about the 
wonderful opportunities in their re- 
spective fields. It's a fact : no engineer 
has ever before had such resources to 
work with, on such a vast scale, and 
with such a free hand. We're laying 
the framework for a city of ten mil- 
lions, all thoroughly systematized and 
efficient. There is no city in the world 
like it; it's an engineer's dream of 
Utopia." 

I WAS almost convinced. There 
was only the tiniest of lurking sus- 
picions that all was not well, but it 
was not powerful enough to stimulate 
me to say anything. But I did deter- 
mine to keep my eyes open. 

I might as well admit in advance 
that from that moment to the time 
when I left the Science Community 
four days later, I saw nothing to con- 
firm s my suspi^ions.**I met Smith and 
Francisco at 'dinner and the four of 
us occupied a table to ourselves in a 
vast dining hall, and no one paid for 
the meal nor for subsequent ones. 
They also seemed content, and talked 
enthusiastically of their work. 

I was shown over the city, through 
its neat, efficient streets, through its 
comfortable dormitories each housing 
hundreds of families as luxuriously as 
any modern hotel, through its mar- 
velous factories where production had 
passed the stage of labor and had as- 
sumed the condition of a devoted act 
of worship. These factory workers 
were not toiling; they were worship- 
pingtoieir God, of Whom each machine 
was a part. Touching their machine 
was touching their God. This ma- 
chinery, while involving no new prin- 
ciples, was developed and coordinated 
to a degree that exceeded anything I 
had ever seen anywhere else. 
I saw the famous Science Temple in 



304 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



the shape of a huge dynamo-generator, 
with its interior decorations, paint- 
ings, earrings, frescoes, and pillars, 
all worked out on the motive of ma- 
chinery; with its constant streams of 
worshippers in blue serge, performing 
their conventional rites and saying 
their prayer formulas at altars in the 
forms of lathes, microscopes, motors, 
and electron-tubes. 

"You haven't become a Science Com- 
munist yourself?" I bantered Benda. 

There was a metallic ring in the 
laugh he gave. 

"They'd like to have me I" was all he 
said. 

I WAS rather surprised at the empti- 
ness of the large and well-kept 
park to which Benda took me. It was 
beautifully landscaped, but only a few 
scattering people were there, lost in 
its vast reaches. 

"These people seem to have no need 
of recreation," Benda said. "They do 
not come here much. But I confess 
that I need air and relaxation, even if 
only for short snatches. I've been too 
busy to get away for long at a time, 
but this park has helped me keep my 
balance — I'm here every day for at 
least a few minutes." 

"Beautiful place," I remarked. "A 
lot of strange trees and plants I never 
saw before — " 

"Oh, mostly tropical forms, common 
enough in their own habitats. They 
have steam pipes under the ground to 
grow them. I've been trying to learn 
something about them. Fancy ' me 
studying natural history I I've never 
cared for it, but here, where there is 
no such thing as recreation, I have be- 
come intensely interested^ in it as a 
hobby. I find it very^jnuch of a rest 
to study these plants and bugs." 

"Why don't you run up to New York 
for a few days?" 

"Oh, the time will come for that. 
In the meanwhile, I've got an idea all 
of a sudden. Speaking of New York, 
will you do me a little service? Even 
-though you might think it silly?" 



"I'll do anything I can," I began, 
eager to be of help to him. 

"It has been somewhat Of a torture 
to ' me," Benda continue, "to find bo 
many of these forms which I am un- 
able to identify. I like to be scien- 
tific, even in my play, and reference 
books on plants and insects are scarce 
here. Now, if you would , carry back 
a few specimens for me, and ask some 
of the botany and zoology people to 
send me their names — " 

"Fine I" I exclaimed. "I've got a 
good-sized pocket notebook I can 
carry them in." 

"Well then, please put them in the 
order in which I hand them to you, and 
send me the names by number. I am 
pretty thoroughly familiar with them, 
and if you will keep them in order, 
there is no need for me to keep a list 
The4rst is a blade of this queer grass." 

I gjed the grass blade between the 
first two pages of my book. 

"The next is this unusual-looking 
pinnate leaf." He tore off a dry leaf- 
let and handed me a stem with three 
leaflets irregularly disposed of it. 

"Now leave a blank page in your 
book. That wall help me remember 
the order in which they come." 

NEXT came a flat insect, which, 
strangely enough, had two legs 
missing on one side. However, Benda 
was moving so fast that I bad to put it 
away without comment. He kept dart- 
ing about and handing me twigs of 
leaves, little sticks, pieces of bark, 
insects, not seeming to care much 
whether they were complete or not: 
grass-blades, several dagger-shaped 
locust thorns, cross-sections of curious 
fruits, moving so rapidly that in a few 
moments my notebook bulged widely, 
and I had to warm him that its hundred 
leaves were almost filled. 

"Well, that ought to be enough," he 
said with a sigh after his lively exer- 
tion. "You don't know how I'll appre- 
ciate your indulging my foolish little 
whim." 

"SayT I exclaimed. "Ask wane- 



A PROBLEM IN COMMUNICATION 



305 



thing of me. This is nothing. I'll -take 
it right over to the Botany. Department, 
tad in a few days you ought to have a 
Bat of names fit for a Bolshevik." 

"One important caution," he said. 
"If you disturb their order in the book, 
or even the position on the page, the 
names you send me will mean nothing 
to me. Not that it will be any great 
loas," he added whimsically. "I sup- 
pose I've become a sort of fan on this, 
like the business men who claim that 
their office work interferes with their 
golf." 

We walked leisurely back toward the 
big dormitory. It was while we were 
crossing a street that Benda stumbled, 
and, to dodge a passing truck, had to 
catch my arm, and fell against me. I 
heard his soft voice whisper in my 
ear: 

"Get out of this town as soon as you 
ant" 

I looked at him in startled amaze- 
ment, but he was walking along, shak- 
ing himself from his stumble, and 
looking up and down the street for 
posing trucks. 

"As I was saying," he said in a mat- 
ter-of-fact voice, "we expect to reach 
the one-and-one-quarter million mark 
this month. I never saw a place grow 
10 fast" 

I FELT a great leap of sudden un- 
derstanding. For a moment my 
muscles tightened, but I took my cue. 

"Remarkable place," I said calmly; 
"one reads a lot of half-truths about 
it Too bad I can't stay any longer." 

"Sorry you have to leave," he said, 
in exactly the right tone of voice. "But 
you can come again." 

How thankful I was for the forty 
years of playing and working together 
that had accustomed us to that sort of 
team-work I Unconsciously we re- 
sponded to one another's cues. Once 
oar ability to "play together" had saved 
my life. It was when we were in col- 
lege and were out on a cross-country 
Uke together; Benda suddenly caught 
aty hand and swung it upward. I 



recognized the gesture ; we were cheer- 
leaders and worked together at foot- 
ball games, and we had one stunt in 
which we swung our handB over our 
heads, jumped about three feet, and 
let out a whoop. This was the "stunt" 
that he started out there in the coun- 
try, where we were by ourselves. Auto- 
matically, without thinking, I swung 
my arms and leaped with him and 
yelled. Only later did I notice the rat- 
tlesnake over which I had jumped. I 
had not seen that I was about to walk 
right into it, and he had noticed it too 
late to explain. A flash of genius sug- 
gested the cheering stunt to him. 

"Communication is a science I" he 
had said, and that was all the comment 
there was on the incident. 

So now, I followed my cue, without 
knowing why, nor what it was all 
about, but confident that I should soon 
find out. By noon I was on the bus, on 
my way through the pass, to meet the 
vehicle from Washington. As the bus 
swung along, a number of things kept 
jumbling through my mind: Benda's 
effusive glee at seeing m4, and his sud- 
den turning and bundling me off in a 
nervous hurry without a word of ex- 
planation; his lined and worried face 
and yet his insistence on the joys of his 
work \n. The Science Community ; his 
obviousv desire to be hospitable and 
play the good host, and yet his evasive- 
ness and unwillingness to chat intim- 
ately and discuss important thing as he 
used to. Finally, that notebook full 
of odd specimens bulging in my pocket. 
And the memory of his words as he 
shook hands with me when I waa step- 
ping into the bus: 

"Long live the science of communi- 
cation I" he had said. Otherwise, he 
was rather glum and silent. 

I TOOK out the book of specimens 
and looked at it. His caution not 
to disturb the order and position of 
things rang in my ears. The Science 
of Communication I Two and two were 
beginning to make four In my mind. 
All the way on the train from Wash- 



306 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



ington to New York I could hardly 
keep my hands off the book. I had 
definitely abandoned the idea of hunt- 
ing up botanists and zoologists at 
Columbia. Benda was not interested 
in the names of these things. That 
book meant something else. Some 
message. The Science of Communica- 
tion I 

That suddenly explained all the con- 
tradictions in his behavior. He was be- 
ing closely watched. Any attempt to 
tell me the things he wanted to say 
would be promptly recognized. He h'ad 
succeeded brilliantly in getting a 
message to me. Now, my part was to 
read it ^ I felt a sudden sinking within 
me. That book full of leaves, bugs, and 
sticks? How could I make anything 
out of it? 

"There's the Secret .Service," I 
thought. "They are skilled in reading 
hidden messages. It must be an im- 
portant one, worthy of the efforts of 
the Secret Service, or he would not 
have been at such pains' to get it to 
me— , 

"But no. The Secret Service is 
skilled at reading hidden messages^but 
not as skilled as I am in reading my 
friend's mind. Knowing Benda, his 
clear intellect, his logical methods, will 
be of more service in solving this than 
all the experts of the Secret Service." 

I barely stopped to eat dinner when 
I reached home. I hurried to the 
laboratory building, and laid out the 
specimens on white sheets of paper, 
meticulously preserving order, posi- 
tion, and spacing. To be on the safe 
side I had them photographed, asking 
the photographer to vary the scale of 
his pictures so that all of the final fig- 
ures would be approximately the same 
size. Plate I. shows what I had. 

I WAS all a-tremble when the 
mounted photographs were handed 
to me. The first thing I did was to 
number the specimens, giving each 
blank space also its consecutive num- 
ber. Certainly no one could imagine 
a more meaningless jumble of twigs, 



leaves, berries, and bugs. How could 
I read any message out of that? 

Yet I had no doubt that the message 
concerned something of far more im- 
portance than Benda's own safety. He 
had moved in this matter with aston- 
ishing skill and breathless caution; yet 
I knew him to be reckless to the ex- 
treme where only his own skill wis 
concerned. I couldn't even imagine hit 
going to this elaborate risk merely oa 
account of Smith and Francisco. Some- 
thing bigger must be involved. 

I stared at the rows of specimens. 

"Communication is a science I" Ben- 
da bad said, and it came back to me at 
I studied the bent worms and the 
beetles with two legs missing. I was 
confident that the solution would be 
simple. Once the key idea occurred to 
me I knew I should find the whole 
thing astonishingly direct and sys- 
tematic. For a moment I tried to at- 
tach some sort of heiroglyphic signific- 
ance to the specimen forms; in the 
writing of the American Indians, a 
wavy line meant" water, an inverted V 
meant a wigwam. But, I discarded 
that idea in a moment. Benfla's mind 
did not work along the pat^s of sym- 
bolism. It would have to be something 
mathematical, rigidly logical, leaving 
no room for guesswork. 

No sooner had the key-idea occurred 
to me than the basic conception under- 
lying all these Nwi of twigs and bug! 
suddenly flashed into dear meaning be- 
fore me. The simplicity of it took my 
breath away. 

"I knew it I" I said aloud, though I 
was alone. "Very simple." 

I was prepared for the fact that each 
one of the specimens represented a let- 
ter of the alphabet. If nothing else, 
their number indicated that. Now I 
could see, so clearly that the photo- 
graphs shouted at me, that each speci- 
men consisted of an upright stem, and 
from this middle stem projected side- 
arms to the right and to the left, and 
in various vertical locations on each 
side. 

The middle upright, stem c o ntaine d 



A PROBLEM IN COMMUNICATION 



307 




these aide-anna in various numbers upright stem; the second, three leaflets 

sod combinations. In five minutes I on their stem, represented the upright 

bad a copy of the message, translated portion with two arms to the left at the 

into its fundamental characters, as top and middle, ssnd one arm to the 

shown on Plate II. right at the top ; and so on. 

The first grass-blade was the simple, That brought the message down to 



308 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



IT JTr+>J^> T 3J\J~ + 

+^n_r=rD 3"JD-=i> >I_H> 
l=TJ J-TJJ _ =I+ K=1f ZJ-XTJJ 



Plate IE 



the simple and straightforward matter 
of a substitution cipher. I was confi- 
dent that Benda had no object in intro- 
ducing any complications that could 
possibly be avoided, as his sole purpose 
was to get to me the most readable mes- 



in a host of its imitators. A Secret 
Service cipher man could have read it 
in an hour. But I knew my friend'i 
mind well enough to find a short-cut 
I knew just how he would go about de- 
vising such a cipher, in fact, bow 



1 


"I 


H 


J 


=1 


d 




3 


r 


T 


T 


J" 


T 


=r 


IT 


3~ 


h 


T 


+ 


Jr 


=t- 


d- 




3- 


L 


~L 


-L 


± 


X 








F 


T 


-F 


J= 


=F 








b 


"b 






=fc 


± 




=h 




X 


x 


X 




X 


X 




b 


b 


-E 


F 


X 




X 


X 



Pia.i-e nr 



■age without getting caught at it. I 
recollected now how cautious he had 
been to hand me no paper, and how 
openly and obviously he had dropped 
each specimen into my book; because 
he knew someone was watching him 
and expecting him to slip in a message. 
He had, as I could see now in the retro- 
spect, been conspicuously careful that 
nothing suspicious should pass from 
his hands to mine. 

Substitution ciphers are easy to 
solve, especially for those having some 
experience. The method can be found 
in Edgar Allen Poe's "Gold Bug" and 



ninety-nine persons out of a hundred 
with a scientific education would do it 

If we begin adding horizontal arms 
to the middle stem, from top to bottom 
and from left to right, the possible 
characters can be worked out by the 
system shown on Plate III. 

It is most logical to suppose that 
Benda would begin with the first sign 
and substitute the letters of the alpha- 
bet in order. That would give us the 
cipher code shown on Plate IV. 

It was all very quick work, just as I 
had anticipated, once the key-idea had 
occurred to me. The ease _aad speed of 



A PROBLEM IN COMMUNICATION 



309 



my method far exceeded that of Poe's 
method, but, of course, was applicable 
only to this particular case. Substi- 
tuting letters for signs out of my dia- 
gram, I got the following message: 
AM PRISONER R PLANS 
CAPTURE OF N Y BY SEIZ- 
ING POWER WATER AND 
PHONES THEN WORLD CON- 
QUEST SOS 



I am not an adventure-loving man. 
Though /a cordon of husky marines 
^SSoitt^ni was a protection against any 
possible . danger, yet, stealing along 
through What wild valley jn the Vir- 
ginia mountains toward the dark 
masses of that fanatic city, the silent 
progress of the long, dark line through 
the night, their mysterious disappear- 
ance, one by one, as we neared the 



1 

A 


1 

B 


c 


J 

D 


=\ 

E 


d 

F 


□ 

G 


3 

H 


r 

i 


T 

J 


-r 

K 


I 

L 


T 

M 


=r 

N 


T 

o 


3" 

p 


h 

0. 


T 

R 


+- 

s 


J- 

T 


u 


V 


> 


3- 

X 


. L 

Y 


z 


-L 

i 


J- 

2. 


=L 

3 




J" 


3_ 

6 


F 

7 


V 

6 


-F 

9 


T 

o 











PART IV 
L'Eavoi 
(By Peter Hagstrom, MD.) 

MY solution of the message prac- 
tically ends the story. Events 
followed each other from then on like 
bullets from a machine-gun. A wild 
drive in a taxicab brought me to the 
door of Mayor Anderson at ten o'clock 
that night. I told him the story and 
showed him my photographs. 

Following that I spent many hours 
telling my story to and consulting 
with officers in the War Department. 
Next afternoon, photographic maps of 
the Science Community and its en- 
virons, brought by airplanes during tit 
forenoon, were spread on desks be ford 
us. A colonel of marines and a colonel 
of aviation sketched plans in note- 
books. After dark I sat in a transport 
plane with muffled exhaust and propel- 
lers, slipping through the air as silent- 
ly as a hawk. About us were a dozen 
b o mbin g planes, and about fifty trans- 
potts, carrying a battalion of marines. 



city, the creepy, hair^eising journey 
through the dark streets— I shall never 
forget for the rest of my, life the sink- 
ing feeling in my abdomen and the 
throbbing in my head. But I wanted 
to be there, for Benda was my lifelong 
friend. 

I guided them to Rohan's rooms, and 
saw a dozen dark forms slip in, one by 
one. Then we went on to the dormi- 
tory where Benda lived. Benda an- 
swered our hammering at his dcjar in 
his pajamas. He took in the Captain's 
automatic, and the bayonets behind me, 
at a glance. 

"Good boy, Hagstrom I" he said. "I 
knew you'd do it. There wasn't much 
time left. I got my instructions about 
handling the New York telephone sys- 
tem to-day." 

As we came out into the street, I saw 
Rohan handcuffed to two big marines, 
and rows of bayonets gleaming in the 
darkness down the streets. Every few 
moments a bright flare shot out from 
the planes in the sky, until a squad lo- 
cated the power-house and turned on 
all the lights they could find. 



Jetta of the Lowlands 

BEGINNING A THREE-PART NOVEL 



By Ray 

Foreword 
J J AVE you ever stood on the sea- 
Al. shore, with the breakers rolling 
at your feet, and imagined what the 
scene would be like if the ocean water 
were gone? I have had a vision of 
that many times. Standing on the At- 
lantic Coast, gaz- 
ing out toward 
Spain, I can en- 
visage myself, not 
down at the sea- 



Cumming* 

level, bat upon the brink of a height 
Spain and the coast of Europe, oS 
there upon another height. 

And the depths between? Unreal 
landscape! Mysterious, realm which 
now we call the bottom of the seal 
Worn and round- 
ed, crags; bloated 
mud-plains; noi- 
some reaches of 
ooze which once 



Fantastic and sinister are the Lowland* 
into wbicb PhQrp Grant descends on his 



310 



were the cold and dark and silent 
ocean Boor, caked and drying in the 
son. And off to the south the little 
fairy mountain tops of the West Indies 
rearing their verdured crowns aloft. 

If the ocean water were gone! Can 
you picture it? A new world, greater 
in area than all the land we now have. 
They wbuld call the former sea-level 
the zero-height, perhaps. The depths 
would go down as far beneath it as 
Mount Everest towers above it. Aero- 
planes would By down into them. 

And I can imagine the settlement of 



these vast new realms. y New little na- 
tions being created, born of man's in- 
domitable will to conquer every ad- 
verse condition of inhospitable nature. 

A novel setting for a story of adven- 
ture. It seems so to me. Can you say 
that the oceans will never drain of 
their water? That an earthquake will 
not open a rift — some day in the future 
— and lower the water into subter- 
ranean caverns? The volume of water 
of all the oceans is no more to the 
volume of the earth than a tissue paper 
wrapping on an orange. 
311 



312 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



Is it too great a fantasy? Why, 
reading the facts of what happened in 
1929, it is already prognosticated. The 
Ashing banks oS the Coast of New- 
foundland have suddenly sunk. . Cable 
ships repairing a broken cable, snapped 
by the earthquake of November 18th, 
.1919, report that for distances of a 
hundred miles on the Grand Banks the 
cables have disappeared into unfathom- 
able depths. And before the subter- 
ranean cataclysm, they were within six' 
hundred feet of the surface. And all 
the bottom of that section of the North 
Atlantic seems to have cared in. Ten 
thousand square miles dropped out of 
the bottom of the ocean! Fact, not 
fancy. 

And' so let us enlarge the picture. 
Let us create the Lowlands — twenty 
thousand feet below the zero-height — 
the setting for a tale of adventure. 
The romance of the mist-shrouded 
deeps. And the romance of little Jetta. 

CHAPTER I 
The Secret Mission 

I WAS twenty-five years of age 
that May evening of 2020 when 
they sent me south into the Low- 
lands. I had been in the National 
Detective Service Bureau, and' then 
was transferred to the. Customs De- 
partment, Atlantic Lowlands Branch. 
I went alone; it was best, my com- 
mander thought. An assignment need- 
ing diplomacy rather than a show of 
force. 

It was 9 P. M. when I catapulted 
from the little stage of Long Island 
airport. A fair, moonlit evening — a 
moon just beyond the full, rising to 
pale the eastern stars. I climbed about 
a thousand feet, swung over the head- 
lands of the Hook, and, keeping in the 
thousand-foot local lane, took my 
course. 

My destination lay some thirteen 
hundred miles southeast of Great New 
York. I could do a good normal three- 
ninety in thjs fleet little Wasp, espe- 
cially if I kept in the rarer air-pres- 



sures over the zero-height. The thoo- 
sand-foot lane had a southward drift, 
this night. I was making now well 
over four hundred; I would reach 
Nareda soon after midnight. 

The Continental Shelf slid beneath 
me, dropping away as my course took 
me further from the Highland borders, 
The Lowlands lay patched with inky 
shadows and splashes of moonlight 
Domes with upstanding, rounded 
heads; plateaus of naked black rock, 
ten thousand feet below the zero- 
height; trenches, like valleys, ridged 
and pitted, naked in places like a pock- 
marked lunar landscape. Or again, a 
pall of black mist would shroud it all, 
dark curtain of sluggish cloud with 
moonlight tinging its edges pallid 
green. 

To my left, eastward toward the 
great basin of the mid-Atlantic Low- 
lands; there was always a steady down- 
ward slope. To the right, it came up 
over the continental shelf to the High- 
lands of the United States. 

There was often water to be seen in 
these Lowlands. A spring-fed lake 
far down in a caldron pit, spilling into 
a trench; low-lying, land-locked little 
seas ; canons, some of thdm dry, others 
filled with tumultuous towing water. 
Or great gashes with water sluggishly 
flowing, or standing with !a heavy slime, 
and a pall of uprising vapor in the heat 
of the night. 

At 37,°N. and 70°W., I passed over 
the newly named Atlas Sea. A lake 
of water here, more than a hundred 
miles in extent. Its surface lay fifteen 
thousand feet below the zero-height; 
its depth in places was a full three 
thousand. It was clear of mist to- 
night. The moonlight shimmered on 
its rippled surface, like pictures my 
father had often shown me of the for- 
mer oceans. 

I passed, a little later, well to the 
westward of the verdured mountain 
top of the Bermudas. 

There was nothing of this flight 
novel to me. I had frequently flown 
over the Lowlands; I ha a descended 



JETTA OF THE LOWLANDS 



313 



faito them many, times. But never upon 
tuch a mission as was taking me there 
now. 

I was headed for Nareda, capital vil- 
lage of the tiny Lowland Republic of 
Nareda, which only five years ago came 
into national being as a protectorate' of 
the United States. Its territory lies 
just north of the mountain Highlands 
of Haiti, Santo Domingo and Porto 
Rico. A few hundred miles of tum- 
bled Lowlands, embracing the turgid 
Nares Sea, whose bottom is the lowest 
point of all the Western Hemisphere 
—some thirty thousand feet below the 
zero-height. 

The village of Nareda is far down 
indeed. I had never been there. My 
charts showed it on the southern bor- 
der of the Nares Sea, at minus twenty 
thousand feet, with the If tea Valley 
behind it like a gash in the steep up- 
ward slopes to the Highlands of Porto 
Rico and Haiti. 

Nareda has a mixed population of 
typical Lowland^ adventurers, among 
which the hardy 'Dutch predominate ; 
and Holland and the United States 
have combined their influence in the 
World Court to givfc it national iden- 
tity. \ 

AND out of this had arisen my mis- 
sion now. Mercury — the quick- 
silver of commerce — so recently come 
to tremendous value through its uni- 
versal use in the new antiseptics which 
bid fair to check all human disease — 
was being produced in Nareda. The 
import duty into the United States was 
being paid openly enough. But never- 
theless Hartley's agents believed that 
smuggling was taking place. 

It was to investigate this condition 
that Hanley was sending me. I had in- 
troduction to the Nareda government 
officials. I was to consult with Hanley 
by ether-phone in seeking the hidden 
source of the contraband quicksilver, 
but, in the main, to use my own judg- 
ment. 

A mission of diplomacy. I had no 
Bund to pry openly among the people 



of these Lowland depths, looking for 
smugglers. I might, indeed, find them 
too unexpectedly I Over-curious stran- 
gers are not welcomed by the Lowland- 
ers. Many have gone into the depths 
and have never returned. . . . 

I was above the Nares Sea, by mid- 
night. I was still flying a thousand 
feet over the zero-height. Twenty-one 
thousand feet below me lay the black 
expanse of water. The moon had 
climbed well toward the zenith, now. 
Its silver shafts penetrated the hang- 
ing mist-stratas. The surface of the 
Nares Sea was visible — dark and sullen 
looking. 

I shifted the angles of incidence of 
the wings, re-set my propeller angles 
and made the necessary carburetor ad- 
justments, switching on the super- 
charger which would supply air at nor- 
mal zero-height pressure to the car- 
buretors throughout my descent. 

I swung over Nareda. The lights 
of the little village, far down, dwarfed 
by distance, showed like bleary, wink- 
ing eyes through the mists. The jag- 
ged recesses of the Mona valley were 
dark with shadow. The Nares Sea lay 
like some black monster asleep, and 
slowly, heavily panting. Moonlight 
was over me, with stars and fleecy 
white clouds. Calm, placid, atmos- 
pheric night was up hire. But beneath, 
it all seemed so mysterious, fantastic, 
sinister. . 

My heart was pounding aM put the 
Wasp into a spiral and forced my way 
down. 

CHAPTER II 

The Face at the Window 

ITH heavy, sluggish engines I 
panted down and came to rest 
in the dull yellow glow of the field 
lights. A new world here. The field 
was flat, caked ooze, cracked and har- 
dened. It sloped upward from the 
shore toward where, a quarter of a mile 
away, I could see the dull lights of the 
settlement, blurred by the gathered 
night vapors. 



W 



314 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



.vThe field operator shut off his per- 
signal and came forward. He 
was a squat, heavy-set fellow in wide 
trousers and soiled white shirt flung 
open at his thick throat. The sweat 
streamed from his forehead. This op^ 
pressive heat I I had discarded my fly- 
ing garb in the descent. I wore a shirt, 
knee-length pants, with hose and wide- 
■solcd shoes of the newly fashioned 
Lowland design. What few weapons 
I dared carry were carefully concealed. 
No alien could enter Nareda bearing 
anything resembling a lethal weapon. 

My wide, thick-soled shoes did not 
look Buspicious for one who planned 
much walking on the caked Lowland 
ooze. But those fat soles were clever- 
ly fashioned to hide a long, keen knife- 
blade, like a dirk. I could lift a foot 
and get the knife out of its hidden 
compartment with fair speed. This I 
had in one shoe. 

In the other, was the small mech- 
anism of a radio safety recorder and 
image finder, with its attendant in- 
dividual audiophone transmitter and 
receiver. A miracle of smallness, these 
tiny contrivances. With batteries, 
wires and girds, the whole device could 
lay in the palm of one's hand. Once 
past this field inspection I would rig 
it for use under my shirt, strapped 
around my chest. And I had some 
colored magnesium flares. 

I 

THE field operator came panting. 
"Who are you?" 
"Philip Grant. v From Great New 
York." I showed him my name etched 
on my forearm. He and hia fellows 
searched me, but I got by. 
"You have no documents?" 
"Na" 

My letter to the President of Nareda 
was written with invisible ink upon 
the fabric of my shirt. If he had heat- 
ed it to a temperature of 180°F. or so, 
and blown the fumes of hydrochloric 
acid upon .it, the writing would have 
come out plain enough. 

I said, "You'll house and care for my 
machine?" 



They would care for it They told 
me the price — swindlingly exorbitant 
for the unwary traveller who might 
wander down here. 

"All correct," I said cheerfully. 
"And half that much more for you and 
your men if you give me good service. 
Where can I have a room and meali?" 

"Spawn," said the operator. "He it 
the best. Fat-bellied from his own 
good cooking. Take him there, Hugo." 

I had a "gold coin instantly ready; 
and with a few additional direction 
regarding my flyer, I started off. 

It had been hot and oppressive stand- 
ing in the field ; it was infinitely wont 
climbing the mud-slope into the vil- 
lage; but my carrier, trudging in ad- 
vance of me along the dark, winding 
path up the slope, shouldered my bag 
and seemed not to notice the effort 
We passed occasional tube-lights 
strung on poles. They illumined the 
heavy rounded crags. A tumbled re- 
gion, this slope which once was the 
ocean floor twenty thousand feet below 
the surface. Rifts were here like gal- 
leys ; little buttes reared their rounded, 
dome heads. And there were caves and 
crevices in which deep sea fish once 
had lurked. 

FOR ten minutes or so we climbed. 
It was past the midnight hour; 
the village was asleep. We entered its 
outposts. The houses were small struc- 
tures of clay. In the gloom they looked 
like drab little beehives set in un- 
planned groups, with paths for streets 
wandering between them. 

Then we came to a more prosperous 
neighborhood. The street widened and 
straightened. The day houses, still 
with rounded domelike tops, stood 
back from the road, with wooden front 
fences, and gardens and shrubbery. 
The windows and doors were like 
round finger-holes plugged in the clay 
by a giant hand. Occasionally the win- 
dows, dimly lighted, stared like sleep- 
ing giant eyes. 

There were flowers in all the more 
pretentious private gardens. Their 



J ETTA OF THE LOWLANDS 



315 



perfume, hanging in the heavy night 
air, lay on the village, making one for- 
get the over-curtain of stenching mist. 
Down by the shore of the Nares Sea, 
this world of the depths had seemed 
darkly sinister. But in the village now, 
I felt it less ominous. The scent of 
the flowers, the street lined in one 
place by arching giant fronds drows- 
ing and nodding overhead — there 
teemed a strange exotic romance to it. 
The sultry air might almost have been 

KOBUOUS. 

"Much further, Hugo?" 

"No. We are here." 

He turned abruptly into a gateway, 
led me through a garden and to the 
doorway of a large, rambling, one-story 
building. The news of my coming had 
preceded me. A front room was light- 
ed ; my host was waiting. 

Hugo set down my bag, accepted an- 
other gold coin ; and with a queer side- 
long smile, the incentive for which I 
had not the slightest idea, he vanished. 
I fronted my host, this Jacob Spawn. 
Strange fate that should have led me 
to Spawn I And to little Jettal 
i 

SPAWN was a fat-bellied Dutchman, 
as the field attendant had said. A 
fellow "of perhaps fifty-five, with sparse 
gray hair and a hcavy-jowled, amooth- 
■haved face from which' his small eyes 
peered stolidly at me. He laid aside 
1 huge, old-fashioned calabash pipe and 
offered a pudgy hand. 

"Welcome, young man, to Nareda. 
Seldom do we see strangers." 

The meal whicfT he presently cooked " 
md served me himself was lavishly 
lone. He spoke good English, but 
■lowly, heavily, with the guttural into- 
nation of his race. He sat across the 
table from me, puffing his pipe while I 
tte. 

"What brings you here, young lad? 
A week, you. say?" 

"Or more. I don't know. I'm look- 
ing for oil. There should be petroleum 
beneath these rocks." 

Pot an hour I avoided his prying 
questions. His little eyes roved me, 



and I knew he was no fool, this Dutch- 
man, for all his heavy, stolid look. 

We remained in his kitchen. Save 
for its mud walls, its concave, dome- 
roof, it might have been a cookery of 
the Highlands. There was a table with 
its tube-light; the chairs; his electron 
stove; his orderly rows of pots and 
pans and dishes on a broad shelf. 

I recall that it seemed to me a wo- 
man's hand must be here. But I saw 
no woman. No one, indeed, beside 
Spawn himself seemed to live here. He 
was reticent of his own business, how- 
ever much he wanted to pry into mine. 

I had felt convinced that we were 
alone. But suddenly I realized it was 
not so. The kitchen adjoined an in- 
terior back-garden. I could see it 
through the opened door oval — a dim 
space of flowers ; a little path to a per- 
gola; an adobe fountain. It was a sort 
of Spanish patio out there, partially 
enclosed by the wings of the house. 
Moonlight was struggling into it. And, 
as I gazed idly, I thought I saw a fig- 
are lurking. Someone watching us. 

WAS it a boy, observing us from 
the shadowed moonlit garden? 
I thought so. A slight, half grown 
boy. I saw his figure — in short ragged 
trousers and a shirt-blouse — made visi- 
ble in a patch of moonlight as he 
moved away and entered the dark op- 
posite wing of the house. 

I did not see the boy's figure again ; 
and presently I suggested that I retire. 
Spawn had already shown me by bed- 
room. It was in another wing of the 
house. It had a window facing the 
front*, and a window and door back to 
this same patio. And a door to the 
house corridor. 

"Sleep well, Meester Grant." My 
bag was here on the table under an 
electrolier. "Shall I call you?" 
"Yes," I said. "Early." 
He lingered a moment. I was open- 
ing my bag. I flung it wide under his 
gaze. 

"Well, good night. I shall be very 
comfortable, thanks." 



* ASTOUNDING STORIES 



"Good night," he said. 

He went out the patio door. I 
watched his figure, cross the moonlit 
path and enter the kitchen. The noise 
of his puttering there sounded for a 
time. Then the light went out and 
the house and garden fell into silence. 

I closed my doors. They sealed on 
the inside, and I fastened them secure- 
ly.. Then I fastened the transparent 
window panes. I did not undress, but 
lay on the bed .in the dark. I was 
tired; I realized it now. But sleep 
would bbt come.. 

I am no believer in occultism, 'but 
there are premonitions 7 which one can- 
not deny. It seemed now as I lay there 
in the dark that I had every reason to 
be perturbed, yet I could not think 
:why. Perhaps it wasjsecause I had 
been lying to this, innkeeper stoutly for 
an h'ehir past, and whether he believed 
"me. or not for. the life of; me I could 
not now determine. 

I SAT up on the bed, pfescntlyfahd 
adjusted the wires and diaphragms 
of the ether-wave mechanism. When 
in place it was all concealed under my 
shirt. At I switched it on, the elec- 
trodes against my flesh tingled a little. 
But it was absolutely soundless, and 
one getB used to the tingle. I decided 
to call Hartley. 

The New York wave-sorter handled 
me promptly, but Hartley's office was 
dead. 

A* I sat there in the darkness, an- 
noyed at this, a slight noise forced it- 
self on me. A scratching — a tap — 
something outside my window. 

Spawn, come back to peer in at me? 

I slipped noiselessly from the bed. 
The sound had come from the window 
which faced the patio. The room, over 
by the bed, was wholly dark. The 
moonlight outside showed the patio 
window as a dimly illumined oval. 

For a momc.u I crouched on the 
floor by the bed.' No sound. The si- 
lence of the Lowlands is as heavy and 
oppressive as its air. I felt as though 
my heart were audible*. 



I lifted my foot; extracted my dirk. 
It opened into a very businesslike steel 
blade of a good twelve-inch length. I 
bared the blade. The dick of it leav- 
ing the flat, hollow handle sounded 
loud in the stillness of the room. 

A moment. Then it seemed that out- 
side my window a shadow had moved, 
I crept along the floor. Rose up sud- 
denly at the window. 

And stared at a face peering in at 
me. A small face, framed by short, 
clustering, dark curls. 
A girl! 

CHAPTER III 
In a Moonlit Garden 

SHE drew back from the window 
like a startled fawn; timorous, yet 
curious, too, for she ran only a few 
steps, then turned and stood peering. 
The moonlight slanted over the west- 
ern roof of the building and fell on 
her. A slight, boyish figure in short, 
tattered trousers and a boy's shirt, 
open at her slim, rounded throat. The 
moonlight gleamed on the white shirt 
fabric to show it torn and ragged. Her 
arms were upraised; her head, with 
clustering, flying dark curls, was tilted 
as though listening for a sound from 
me. A shy, wild creature. Drawn to 
my window; tapping to awaken me, 
then frightened at what she had done. 

I opened the garden door. She did 
not move. I thought she would run, 
but she did not. The moonlight was 
on me as I stood there. , I w^s con- 
scious of its etching me with its silver 
sheen. And twenty feet from me this 
girl stood and gazed, with startled eyes 
f and parted lips — and white limbs trem- 
bling like a frightened animal. 

The patio was very silent,' The 
heavy arching fronds stirred slightly 
with a vague night breeze; the moon- 
light threw a lacy dark pattern of them 
on the ray stone path. The fountain 
bowl gleamed white in the moonlight 
behind the girl, and In the silence I 
could hear the low splashing of the 
water. 



JETTA OF THE LOWLANDS 



r 



317 



A magic moment. Unforgettable. ( much. Yet for us, ijt was so important I 
It comes to some of us just once, but Vjtal. Building memories which I 
to all of us it comes. I stood with its knew — and I think that she knew, even 
spell upon me. Then I heard my voice, /then — we would never forget, 
tense but softly raised. / "I will be here a week, Jetta." 

"Who are you?" ( "I want — I want very much to know 

It frightened her. She retreated un- ^you. I want you to tell me about the 



til the fountain was between us. And 
as I took a step forward, she retreated 
further, noiseless, with her bare "feet 
treading the smooth stones of the path. 

IRAN and caught her at the door- 
way of the flowered pergola. She 
stood trembling as I seized her arms. 
But the timorous smile remained, and 
her eyes, upraised to mine, glowed 
with misty starlight. 
"Who are you?" 

This time she answered me. "I am 
called Jetta." 

It seemed that from her white fore- 
arm within my grasp a magic current 
swept from her to me and back again. 
We humans, for all our clamoring, 
boasting intellectuality, are no more 
than puppets in Nature's hands; 

"Are you Spawn's daughter?** 

"Yea." 

"I saw you a while ago, when I was 
having my meal." 

"Yes — I was watching you." 

"I thought you were a boy." 
, "Yes. My father told me to keep 
away. I wanted to meet you, so I came 
to wake you up." 

"He may be watching us now." 

"No. He is sleeping. Listen — you 
can hear him snore." 

I could, indeed. The silence of the 
garden was broken now by a distant, 
choking snore. 

We both laughed. She sat on the 
little mossy seat in the pergola door- 
way. And on the side away from the 
snore. (I had the wit to be sure of 
•*■*■) 

"I wanted to meet you," she Repeat- 
ed. "Was it too bold?" 

THINK that what we said, sitting 
there with the slanting moonlight 
us, could not have amounted to 



I 



world of the Highlands. I have a few 
books. I can't read very well, but I 
can look at the pictures." 
"Oh, I see—" ( 

"A traveler gavfe them to me. I've 
got them hidden. But he was an old 
man : all men seem to be old— except 
those in the pictures, and you, Philip." 

I laughed. "Well, that's too bad. 
I'm mighty glad I'm young." 

Ah, in that moment, with blessed 
youth surging in my veins, I was glad, 
indeed! 

"Young. I don't remember ever see- 
ing anyone like you. The man I am to 
marry is not like you. He is old, like 
father—" 

I drew back from her, startled. 

"Marry?" 

"Yes. When I am seventeen. The 
law of Nareda — your Highland law, 
too, father says — will not let a girl be 
married until she^is that age. In a 
month I am seventeen." 

"Ohr And I stammered, "But why 
are you going to marry?" 

"Because father tells me to. And 
then I shall have fine clothes: it is 
promised me. And go to live in the 
Highlands, perhaps. And see things; 
and be a woman, not a ragged boy for- 
bidden to show myself ; and — " 

I WAS barely touching her. It 
seemed as though something — some 
vision of happiness which had been 
given me — were fading, were being 
snatched away. I was conscious of my 
hand moving to touch hers. 

"Why do you marry — unless you're 
in love? Are you? 

Her gaze like a child came up to 
meet mine. "I never thought much 
about that.. I have tried not to. It 
frightened me — until to-night." 
She pushed me gentry away. "Don't 



318 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



\ 



Let's not talk <Sf him, I'd rather not-" 
"But why are you dressed as a boy ?" 
I gazed at her slim but rounded fig- 
ure in tattered boy's garb— but the 
woman's lines were unmistakable. And 
her face, with clustering curls. Gentle 
girlhood. A face of dark, wild beauty. 

"My father hates women. He says 
they are all bad. It is a sin to wear 
woman's finery; or it breeds sin in 
women. Let's not talk of that. Philip, 
tell me — oh, if ^you could only realize 
all the things I want to know. In 
Great New York, there are theatres and 
music?" 

"Yes," I said.' And began telling her 
about them. 

The witching of this moonlit garden I 
But the moon had presently sunk, and 
to the east the stars were fading. 

"Philip!' Look! Why, it's dawn al- 
ready. I've got to leave you." 

I held her just a moment by the 
hart. 

"Btay I meet you here to-morrow 
nightX I asked. 

"Yes," she said simjfly. 

"Good night— Jetta." \, 

"Good night. You — you've made me 
very happy." 

She was gone, into a doorway of the 
opposite wing. The silent, .eqipty gar- 
den sounded with the distant, seassur- 
ing snores of the still sleeping-Spawn. 

I went back to my room andjay on 
my bed. And drifted off on a sea of 
magic memories. The world — my 
world before this night — now seemed 
to have been so drab. Empty. Life- 
less. But now there was pulsing, liv- 
ing magic in it for me. 

I drifted into sleep, thinking of it. 

CHAPTER IV 
The Mine in the Cauldron Depths 

1WAS awakened bythe tinkling, 
buzzing call of the radio-diaphragm 
beneath my shirt. I had left the call 
open. 

It was Hanley. I lay down, eyeing 
my window which now was illumined 
by the flat light of dawn. 



Hanley's microscopic voice: 

"Phil? I've j list ' raised President 
Maries, there in Nareda. I've been a 
bit worried about you." 

"I'm all right. Chief." 

"Well, ♦you'd better see President 
Markes this morning." 

"That was my intention." 

"Tell him frankly what you're after. 
This smuggling of quicksilver from 
Nareda has got to stop. But take it 
easy, Phil; don't be reckless. Re- 
member: one little knife thrust and 
I've lost a good man I" 

I laughed at his anxious tone. That 
was always Hanley's way. A devil 
himself, when he was on a trail, but 
always worried for fear one of his men 
would come to harm. 

"Right >enough, Chief. Til be care- 
ful." 

He cut off presently. 

I did not see Jetta that morning. I 
told Spawn I was hoping to see Presi- 
dent Markes on my petroleum proposi- 
tion. And at the proper hour I took 
myself to the government house. 

THIS Lowland village by daylight 
seemed even more fantastic than 
shrouded in the shadows of night. The 
morning sun had dissipated the over- 
head mists. It was hot in the rocky 
streets under the weird overhanging 
vegetation. The settlement was quiet* 
ly busy with its tropical activities. 
There jwere a few local shops ; vehicles 
with the Highland domestic animals — 
horses and oxen — panting in the heat; 
an occasional electro-automatic car. 

But there were not marly evidences 
of modernity here. The street and 
house rube-lights. A few radio image- 
finders on the house-tops. An auto- 
matic escalator bringing ore from ( 
nearby mine past the government 
checkers to an aero-stage for northern 
transportation. Cultivated fields in 
the village outskirts operated with 
modern machinery. 

But beyond that, it seemed primi- 
tive. Two hundred years back. Street 
vendors. People in primitive, ragged, 



JETTA OF THE LOWLANDS 



319 



tropical gjrb. Half naked children. I 
was stared at curiously. An augment- 
ing group of children followed me as 
I went down the street. 

The President admitted me at once. 
In his airy office, with safeguards 
against eavesdropping, I found him at 
his desk with a bank of modern instru- 
ments before him. 

"Sit down, Grant." 

HE was a heavy-set, flabby man of 
sixty-odd, this Lowland Presi- 
dent. White hair; and an old-fash- 
ioned, rolling white mustache of the 
sort lately come into $outh America 
fashion. He sat with dl glass of iced 
drink at his side. His uniform was' 
stiffly white, and ornate with heavy 
gold braid, but his neckpiece was wilt- 
ed with perspiration. 
"Damnable heat, Grant." 
"Yes, Sir President." 
"Have a drink." He swung a tinkling 
glass before me. "Now then, tell me 
what is your trouble. Smuggling, here 
in Nareda. I don't believe it." His 
eyes, incongruously alert with all the 
rest of him so fat and lazy, twinkled 
at me. "We of the Nareda Govern- 
ment watch our quicksilver product- 
lion very closely. The government fee 
is a third." 

I might say that the Nareda govern- 
ment collected a third on all the min- 
eral and agricultural products of the 
country, in exchange for the necessary 
government concessions. Markes ex- 
ported this share openly to the world 
markets, paying the duty exactly like 
a private corporation. 

He added, "You think — Hanley 
thinks — the smuggling is on too large 
a scale to be any illicit producer?" 
1 1 nodded. 
"Then," he said, "it tmut^DcSne of 
our recognized mines." ~ , 

"Hanley thinks it is a recognized 
mine, falsifying its production record," 
I explained. 

"If that is so, I will discover it," he 
•aid. He spoke with enthusiasm and 
figor. "For you I shall treat as what 



you are — the representative of oar most 
friendly government.. The figures of 
our quicksilver production 1 shall lay 
before you in just a few days. Let 
me^fiU up your glass, Grant." 

THE lazy tropics. I really did not 
doubt his sincerity. But I did 
doubt his ability to cope with any 
'clever criminal. His enthusiasm for 
action would wilt like his neckpiece, in 
Nartda's heat. Unless, perhaps, the 
knowledge that the smuggler was 
cheating him as well as the United 
States — that might spur him. 

He added — and now I got a shock 
wholly unexpected: "If we think that 
some recognized producer of quick- 
silver here is cheating us, it should not 
be difficult to check up on it. Nareda 
has only one large cinnabar lode being 
worked. A private individual : that 
fellow Jacob Spawn — " > 1 
"Spawn?" I exclaimj^Mvolu^tarily. 
"Why, yes. Did ^pot he mention it? 
His mine is no. -more than ten kilo- 
meters from hpre — back on the south- 
ern slope." 
"He didn't mention it," I said. 
"So? That is strange; but he is a 
secretive Dutchman by nature. He 
specializes in prying into the other 
fellow's affairs. Hm-m." 

He fell into a reverie while I stared 
at him. Spawn, the big — the only big 
—quicksilver producer here I 

THE President interrupted my star- 
tled thoughts. "I hope you did 
not intimate your real purpose?" 
"No." 

We both turned at the sound of an 
opening door. Markes called, "Ah, 
come in Peronal Are you alone? 
Good I Close that slide. Here is Chief 
Hanley's representative." He intro- 
duced us all in a breath. "This is in- 
teresting, Perona. Damnably interest- 
ing. We're being cheated, what? It 
looks that way. Sit down, Perona," 

This was Greko Perona, Nareda's 
Minister of Internal Affairs. Spawn 
had mentioned him to me. A South 



320 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



American. A man in his fifties. Thin 
and darkly saturnine, with iron-gray 
hair, carefully plastered to cover his 
half-bald head. He sat listening to 
the President's, harangue, twirling the 
upturned waxen ends of his artificially 
black mustache. A wave of perfume 
enveloped him. A ladies' courtier, this 
Perona by the look of him. His white 
uniform was immaculate, carefully 
tailored and carefully worn to set off 
at its best his stillitrim and erect figure. 

"Well;" he said, when at last the 
President paused, "of a surety Some- 
thing must be done." 

Perona seemed not excited, rather 
more carefully watchful, of his own 
words, and of me. His small dark eyes 
roved me. 

"What is it you would plan to do 
about it, Sefiorito?" 

An irony was in that Latin diminu- 
tive I He spread his pale hands. "Your 
United States officials perhaps exag- 
gerate. I am very doubtful if we have 
smugglers here in Nareda." , 

"Unless it is Spawn," the President 
interjected. 

PERONA frowned slightly. But his 
suave manner remained. "Spawn ? 
Why Spawn?" 

"You need not take offense, Perona," 
Markes retorted. "We axe discussing 
this before an envoy of the United 
States, sent here to consult with us. 
We have nothing to hide." 

Markes turned to me. And his next 
words were like a bomb exploding at 
my feet. 

"Perona is offended. Grant. But I 
promise you, his natural personal 
prejudice will not affect my investiga- 
tion. Of course he is prejudiced, since 
he is to marry Spawn's daughter, the 
little Jetta." 

I started involuntarily. This pom- 
aded old dotard I This perfumed, an- 
cient dandy I 

For all the importance of my mis- 
«ion in Nareda, my thoughts had been 
subconsciously more upon Jetta — far 
more — than upon smugglers of quick- 



silver. This palsied popinjay I This, 
the reality of the specter which had 
been between Jetta and me during all 
that rnagic time in the moonlit garden I 

This suave old rake! Bctrothedrfo. 
that woodland pixie whose hand load 
held and to whom I had sung love 
songs in the magic flower-scentea 
moonlight only a few hours ago I And 
whom I had promised to meet there 
again to-night 1 

This, then, was my rival I 

I^TOCHING of importance tran- 
XN spired during the remainder of 
that interview. Markes reiterated his 
intention of making a complete govern- 
mental investigation at once. To which 
Perona suavely assented. 

"Pot Dios Senotito," he said to me, 
"we would not have your great govern- 
ment annoyed at Nareda. If there are 
smugglers, we will capture them of a 
, certainty." 

Frrjcn the Government House, it now 
being almost time for the midday meal, 
I returned to Spawn's. 

The rambling mud walls of the Inn 
stood baking in the noonday heat when 
{"arrived. The outer garden drowsed; 
there seemed no one about. I went 
through the main door oval into the 
front public room, where first I had 
met Spawn. He was not here now, nor 
was Jetta. - 

A sudden furtiveness fell upon me. 
With noiseless steps I went the length, 
of the dim, padded interior corridor 
to my own room. My belongings 
seemed undisturbed ; a vague idea that 
Spawn might have seised this oppor- 
tunity to ransack them had come to 
me. But it seemed not ; though if he 
had he would have found nothing. 

I stood for a moment listening at my 
patio window. I could see the kitchen 
from here; there was no one in it I 
started back for the living room. That 
furtive instinct was still oh me. I made 
no noise. And abruptly I heard 
Spawn's voice, floating out softly in 
the hushed silence of the house. 

"So, Perona?" 



JETTA OF THE LOWLANDS 
which^ it 



321 



A BRIEF silence, in 
seemed that I could bear a tiny 
aerial answer. Then Spawn again. A 
startled oath. 

"De duvell You say — V 
, I stood frozen, listening. 

"She is here. Yes, I will keep 
her close. I am ho fool, Pcrona." 

Spawn's laugYi was like a growl. 
"Later to-day, yes. Fear not I I am no 
fool. I will be careful of it." 

Spawn, talking by private audiphone, 
to Perona. The colloquy came to an 
abrupt end. * 

"... Might eavesdrop? By hell, you 
are right 1" 

I heard the click as, Spawn and Per- 
ona broke connection. Spawn came 
from his room. But he was not quick 
enough. I slipped away Before he saw 
me. -In the living room I had time to 
be calmly seated with a lighted ciga- 
rette. His approaching heavy footsteps 
sounded. He came in. 
"Oh— Grant." 

"Good noon, friend Spawn. I'm hun- 
gry." I grinned at him. "I understand 
my bargain with you included a noon- 
day meal. Does it?" 

He eyed me suspiciously. "Have you 
been waiting here long?" 

"No. I just came in." 

He led me to the kitchen. He apolo- 
gized for the informality of his hotel 
service: visitors were so infrequent. 
But the good quality of his food would 
make up for it. 

"Right," I agreed. "Your food is 
marvelous, friend Spawn." 

THERE was a difference in Spawn's 
manner toward me now. He 
Itemed far more wary. Outwardly he 
was in a high good humor. He asked 
nothing concerning my morning at the 
Government House. He puttered over 
his electron-stove, making me help him ; 
he cursed the heat; he said one could 
not eat in such heat as this; but the 
meal he cooked, and the way he sat 
down opposite me and attacked it, be- 
lied him. 



He was acting; but so was I. And noonday meal? 



perhaps I deceived him as little* as he 
deceived me. We avoided the things 
which were uppermost in the thoughts 
of us both. But, when we had very 
nearly finished the meal, I 'decided to 
try him out. I said suddenly, out of a 
silence : 

"Spawn, why didn't you tell me you 
were a producer of quicksilver?" I 
shot him a sharp glance. "You are, 
aren't you?" 

It took him by surprise, but he re- 
covered himself instantly. "Yes. Are 
you interested?" 

I tried another shot. "What sur- 
prised me was that a wealthy mine 
owner — you are, aren't you?— should 
bother to keep an unprofitable hotel. 
Why bother with it. Spawn?" 

I thought I knew the answer: he 
wanted Nareda's visitors under his 
eyes. 

"That is a pleasure." There was 
irony in his tone. "I am a lonesome 
man. I like — interesting companion- 
ship, such as yours, young Grant." 

It was on my tongue to hint at his 
daughter. But I thought better of it. 

"I am going to the mine now," he 
said abruptly. "Would you like to 
come?" 

. "Yes," I smiled. "Thanks." 

I WANTED to see his mine. But 
that he should be eager to show 
it, surprised me. I wondered what' 
purpose he could have in that. I had a 
hint of it later; for when we took his 
little autocar and slid up the winding 
road into the bloated crags towering 
on the slope behind Nareda, he told me 
calmly : 

"I shall haye to put you ir. charge 
of my mine commander. I am busy 
elsewhere this afternoon. You will see 
the mine just as well without me." 

He added, "I must go to the Gov- 
ernment House: President Markes 
wants a report on my recent produc- 
tion." 

So that was what Perona had told 
him over the audiphone just before our 



322 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



It was an inferno of shadows and 
glaring lights, this underground ca- 
vern. As modern mining activities go, 
it was small and primitive. No more 
fhan a dozen men were here, beside the 
sweating pudgy mine commander who 
was my guide. A voluble fellow; of 
what original nationality I could not 
determine. 

We stood watching the line of carts 
dumping the ore onto the endless lift- 
ing-belt. It went a hundred feet or so 
up and out of the cavern's ascending 
shaft, to fall with a clatter into the bins 
above the smelter. 

"Rich ore," I said. "Isn't it?" 

The cinnabar ran like thick blood- 
red veins in the rock. 

"Rich," said the mine commander. 
"That it is. Rich. But who does it 
make rich ? Only Spawn, not me." He 
waved his arms, airing his grievance 
with which for an hour past he had 
regaled me. "Only Spawn. For me, a 
dole each week." 

The smelter was in a stone building 
—one of a small group of mine houses 
which' stood in a cauldron depression 
above excavations. Rounded domes of 
rock towered above them. The sun, 
even at this tri-noon hour, was gone 
behind the heights above us. The 
murky shadows of night were gather- 
ing, the mists of the Lowlands settling. 
The tube-lights of the mine, strung be- 
tween small metal poles, winked on 
like bleary eyes. 

"Of a day soon I will fling this job 
to hell— " 

I WAS paying scant attention to the 
fellow's tirade. Could there be 
smuggling going on from this mine? 
It all seemed to be conducted openly 
enough. If the production record were 
being falsified I felt that this dissatis- 
fied mine commander was not aware of 
it. He showed me the smelter, where 
the quicksilver condensed in the coils 
and ran with its small luminous silver 
streams into the vats. 

He was called away momentarily by 
one of his men, leaving me standing 



there. I was alone; no one seemed in 
sight, or within hearing. • In the shad- 
ow of the condensers I drew out my 
transmitter and called Hahley. 

I got him within a minute 

"Chief I" 

"Yes, Phil. I hoped you'd call me. 
Didn't want to chance it, raising you 
when you might not be alone." 

I told him swiftly what I had done; 
where I was now. 

And Hanley said, with* equal brisk- 
ness : "I've an important fact Just had 
Markes on secret wave-length. He tells 
me that Spawn has been saving up his 
quicksilver for six months past. He's 
got several hundred thousand dollar- 
standards' worth of it in ingots there 
right now." 

"Here at the mine?" 

"Yes. Got them all radiuminized, 
ready for the highest priced markets. 
Markes says he is scheduled to tum 
them over to the government checkers 
to-morrow. The Narcda government 
takes its share to-morrow j then Spawn 
exports the rest." 

I heard a footstep. "Off, Chief I I'll 
call you later I" 

I clicked off summarily. The little 
grid was under my shirt when the 
mine commander rejoined me. 

FOR another half hour or so I hov- 
ered about the smelter house. A 
treasure of quicksilver ingots here? I 
mentioned it casually to my compan- 
ion. He shot me a sharp glance. 
"Spawn has told youithftt?" 
"I heard it." 

"His business. We do! not talk of 
that. Never can I tell what Spawn 
will-choose to take offense at." 

We rambled upon other subjects. 
Later, he said, "We work not at night 
But Spawn, he is here often at night 
with his friend, the Sefior Perona." 

That caught my attention. "I met 
Perona this morning," I said quickly. 
"Is he a partner of Spawn's?" 

"If he is so, I never was told it 
But much he is here — at night' ' 

"W_hy at night ?" 



J ETTA OF THE LOWLANDS 



323 



The fellow really knew nothing. Or 
if he did, he was diplomatic enough not 
to jeopardize his post by babbling of it 
to me. He said: 

"Perona is Spawn's friend. Why 
not? His daughter to marry : that will 
make him a son-in-law." He laughed. 
"An old fool, but not such a fool 
either. Spawn is rich." 

"His daughter. Has he a daughter?" 

"The little Jetta. You haven't seen 
her? Well, that is not strange. 
Spawn keeps her very hidden. A mys- 
tery about it : all Nareda talks, but no 
one knows; and Spawn does not like 
questions." 

Spawn abruptly joined us I He came 
from the black shadows of the lurid 
smelter room. Had he heard us dis- 
cussing Jetta? I wondered. 

CHAPTER V 

Mysterious Meeting 

u A H Grant — have you enjoyed 
yourself?" He dismissed his 
■ubordinate. "I was detained. Sorry." 

He was smoothly imperturable. 
"Have you seen everything? Quite a 
little plant I have here? We shut 
down early to-day. I will make ready 
to dose." 

I followed him about while he ar- 
ranged for the termination of the day's 
activities. The clatter of the smelter 
house was presently still; the men de- 
parting. Spawn and I were the last 
to leave, save for the eight men who 
were the mine's night guards. They 
were stalwart, silent fellows, armed 
with electronic needle projectors. 

The lights of the mine went low un- 
til they were mere pencil points of 
blue illumination in the gloom. The 
eery look of the place was intensified 
by the darkness and silence of the ab- 
normally early nightfall. The fantas- 
tic crags stood dark with formless 
shadow. 

Spawn stopped to speak to one of the 
guards. The men wore a gold-trimmed, 
but now dirty, white linen uniform, 
wilted by the heat — the uniform of 



Nareda's police. I remarked it to him. 

"The government lent me. the men," 
Spawn explained. "Of an ordinary 
time I have only one guard." 

"But this then, is not an ordinary 
time?" I hinted. 

He looked at me sharply. And upon 
sudden impulse, I added: 

"President Markes said something 
about you having a treasure here. Ra- 
diumized quicksilver." 

It was evidently Spawn's desire to 
appear thoroughly frank with me. He 
laughed. "Well then, if Markes has 
. told you, then might I not as well ad- 
mit it? The treasure is here, indeed 
yes. Will you like to see it?" 

HE led me into a little strong room 
adjoining the smelter coil-recti- 
fiers. He flashed his hand searchlight. 
On the floor, piled crosswise, were 
small moulded bars of refined quick- 
silver — dull, darkened silver ingots of 
this world's most precious metal. 

"Quite a treasure, Grant, here to- 
night. See, it is radiumized." 

He snapped off his torch. In the 
darkness the little bars glowed irrides- 
cent. 

"To-morrow I will divide with our 
Nareda government. One-third for 
them. And my own share I will ex-, 
port: to Great New York, this ship- 
ment. Already I have the order for 
it" 

He added calmly, "The duty is high, 
Grant. Too bad your big New York 
market is protected by so large a duty. 
With my cost of production — these 
accursed Lowland workmen who de- 
mand so much for their labor, and a 
third of all I produce taken by Nareda 
— there is not much in it for me." 

He had re-lightcd the room. I could 
feel his eyes on me, but I said nothing.- 
It was obvious to me now that he knew 
I was a government customs agent. 

I said, "This certainly interests me, 
friend Spawn. I'll tell you why some 
other time." 

We exchanged significant glances, 
both of us smiling. 



324 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



"Well can I guess it, young Grant. 
So here is my treasure. Without the 
duty I would soon be wealthy. Chut I 
Why should I roll in a pity for my- 
self? There is a duty and I am an 
'honest man, so I pay it." 

I said, "Aren't you afraid to leave 
this stored here?" I knew that this 
pile of ingots — the quicksilver in its 
radiumized form-^was worth four or 
five hundred thousand dollars 



E rolled back to Nareda. 
Spawn's manner had again 
changed. He seemed even more friend- 
ly than before. More at his ease with 
me. We had supper,' and smoked to- 
gether in his living room for half an 
hour afterward. But my thoughts 
were more on Jetta than on her father. 
There was still no evidence of her 
about the premises. Ah, if I only had 
known what had taken place there at 



American gold-coin at the very least. >^~\ Spawn's that afternoon while I was at 

the mine I 



SPAWN shrugged. "Who would at- 
tack it? But of course I will be- 
glad to be rid of it. It is a great re- 
sponsibility — even though it carries in- 
ternational insurance, to protect my 
and the Nareda Government share." 

He was sealing up the heavy barred 
portals of the little strong-room. There 
was an alarm-detector, connected with 
the office of Nareda's police command- 
er. Spawn set the alarm carefully. 

"I have every safeguard, Grant. 
There is really no danger." He added, 
as though with sudden thought, "Ex- 
cept possibly one — a depth bandit 
named De Boer. Ever you have heard 
of him?" 
"Yes. I have." 

We climbed into Spawn's small auto- 
matic vehicle. The lights of the mine 
faded behind us as we coasted the 
winding road down to the village. 

"De Boer," said Spawn. "A fellow 
who lives by his' wits in the depths. 
Near here, perhaps: who knows? They 
say he has many followers — fifty — a 
hundred, perhaps — outlaws : a cut-belly 
band it must be." 

"Didn't he once take a hand in Na- 
reda's politics?" I suggested. 

Spawn guffawed. "That is so. He 
was once what they called a patriot 
here. He thought he might be made 
President. But Markes ran him out. 
Now he is a bandit. I have believe 
that American mail-ship which sank 
last year in the cauldron north of the 
Nares Sea — you rememhkr how it was 
attacked by bandits?^! have always 
believe that was De Boer's band." ' 



Soon after, supper Spawn yawned. 
"I think I shall go to bed." His glance 
was inquiring. "What are you going 
to do?" 

I stood up. "I'll go tjo- bed, too. 
Markes wants to see me jarly in the 
morning. You'll be there, jSpawn ?" 

"Yes. We will go togetjher." 

It was still no more , than eight 
o'clock in the evening. [Spawn, fol- 
lowed me to my bedroom, land left me 
at its door. 

"Sleep well. I will call you in time." 

"Thanks, Spawn." 

I wondered if there were irony in 
his voice as he said good night. No 
one could have told. 

I DID not go to bed. I sat listening 
to the silence of my room and the 
garden, and Spawn's retreating foot- 
steps. He had said he was sleepy, but 
nevertheless I presently heard him 
across the patio. He was apparently in 
the kitchen, cleaning away our meal, to 
judge by the rattling of his pans. It 
was as yet not much after hour eight 
of the evening. The hours before my 
tryst with Jetta seemed an interminable 
time to wait. She might not come, 
though, I was afraid, until midnight 
At all events I felt that ! had some 
hours yet. And it occurred to me that 
the evening was not yet too far ad- 
vanced for me to call upon Perona. 
He lived not far from here, I had 
learned. I wanted to see, this berib- 
boned old Minister of Nareda's Internal 
Affairs. 

I would use as my excuse a desire to 



JETTA OF THE LOWLANDS 



325 



discuss further the possibility of smug- 
gler being here in Nareda. 

I put on my hat and a light jacket, 
verified that my dirk was readily acces- 
sible and sealed up my room. Spawn 
apparently was still in the kitchen. I 
got out of the house, I felt sure, with- 
out him being aware of it. 

THE Nareda streets were quiet. 
There was a few pedestrians, and 
none of them paid much attention to 
me. It was no more than ten minutes 
walk to Perona's home. 

His house was set back from the 
road, surrounded by luxurious vegeta- 
tion. There was a gate in front of the 
garden, and another, a hundred feet or 
to along a small alleyway which bor- 
dered the ground to my left. , I was 
■bout to enter the front gate when Bight 
of a figure passing under the garden 
foliage checked me. It was a man, evi- 
dently coming- from the house and 
headed toward the side* gate. He went 
through a shaft of light that planted 
from one of the lower windows' of the 
house. 

Peronal ' I was sure it was he. His 
■light figure, with a gay, tri-cornered 
hat A short tasseled cloak hanging 
from his shoulders. He was alone ; 
walking fast. He evidently had not 
■cen me. I crouched outside the high 
front wall, and through its lattice bars 
I saw him reach the Bide gate, open 
it swiftiy, pass through, and close it 
after him. There was something fur- 
tive about his manner, for all he was 
undisguised. I decided to follow him. 

The front street fortunately was de- 
HTted at the moment. I waited long 
enough for him to appear. But he did 
not; and when I ran to the alley cor- 
ner — chancing bumping squarely into 
him — I saw him far down its dim, nar- 
row length where it opened into the 
back street which bordered his grounds 
to the rear. He turned to the left and 
shot a swift glance up the alley, which 
I anticipated, provided for by drawing 
back. When I looked again, he was 
gone. 



I HAVE had some experience at 
playing the shadow. But it was 
not easy here along the almost deserted 
and fairly bright Nareda streets. Per- 
ona was walking swiftly down the 
slope toward the outskirts of the vil- 
lage where it bordered upon the Nares 
Sea. For a time I thought he was 
headed for the landing field, but at a 
cross-path he turned sharply to the 
right, away from the field, whose sheen 
of lights I could now see down the 
rocky defile ahead of me. There was 
nothing but broken, precipitous rocky 
country ahead of him, into which this 
path he had taken was winding. What 
could Perona, a Minister, be engaged 
in, wandering off alone into this black, 
deserted region? 

It was black indeed, by now. The 
village was soon far behind us. A 
storm was in the night air; a wind off 
the sea; solid black clouds overhead 
blotted out the moon and stars. The 
crags and buttes and gullies of this 
tumbled area loomed barely visible 
about me. There were times when 
only my feel >of the path under my 
feet kept me from straying, tb fall into 
a ravine or crevice. 

I prowled perhaps two hundred yards 
behind Perona. He was using a tiny 
hand-flash now; it bobbed and winked 
in the darkness ahead, vanishing some- 
times when a curve in the path hid 
him, or when he plunged down into a 
gully, and up again. I had no search- 
beam. Nor would I have dared use 
one: Perona could too obviously have 
'seen that someone was following him. 

There was half a mile of this, I think, 
though it seemed interminable. I could 
hear the sea, rising with the wind, 
pounding .against the rocks to my left. 
Then, a jlistance ahead, I saw lights 
moving. Perona's — and others. '' Three 
or four of them. Their combined glow 
made a radiance which illumined the 
path and rocks. I could see the figures 
of several men whom Perona had 
joined. They stood a moment and 
then moved off. To the right a ragged 
cliff wall towered the path. The spots 



326 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



of light bobbed toward it. I caught, 
the vague outline of a huge broken 
opening, like a cave mouth in the cliff/ 
The lights were swallowed by it. 
I crept cautiously forward. 

CHAPTER VI 
Ether-wave Eavesdropping 

I HAD thought it was a cavern 
month into which the men had dis- 
appeared, but it was not. I reached 
it without any encounter. It loomed 
above me, a great archway in the cliff 
— an opening fifty feet high and equal- 
ly as broad. And behind it was a roof- 
less cave — a sort of irregularly circu- 
lar bowl, five hundred feet across 
its broken, bowlder-strewn, caked-ooze 
floor. 

I crouched in the blackness under 
the archway. KThe moon had risen and 
its light filtered with occasional shafts 
through the swift-flying black clouds 
overhead. The scene was brighter. It 
was dark in the archway, but a glow 
of moonlight in the npwl beyond 
showed me its tumbled floor and the 
precipitous, eroded walls, Uke a crater- 
rim, which encircled it. 

The men whom Perona had met were 
across the bowl near its opposite side. 
I could see the group of them, five hun- 
dred feet from me, by a little moon- 
light that was on them; also by the 
sheen from the spots of their hand-, 
lights. Four or five men, and Perona. 
I thought I distinguished the aged 
Minister sitting on a rock\ and before 
Slim a huge giant man's figure striding 
up and down. Perona seemed talking 
vehemently; the men were listening; 
the giant paused occasionally in his 
pacing to fling a question. 

AU this I saw with my first swift 
glance. My attention was drawn from 
the men to an object near them. The_ 
nose of a flyer showed between two up- 
standing crags on the floor of the val- 
ley. Only its forward horizontal pro- 
pellors and the tip of its cabin and 
landing gear were visible, but I could 
guess that it was a fair-sized ship. 



The men were too far away for ma 
to hear them. Could I get across the 
floor of the bowl without discovery? 
It did not seem so. The accursed 
moonlight became stronger every mo- 
ment. Then I saw a guard — a dark 
figure of a man showing just inside the 
archway, some seventy feei from me. 
He was leaning against a rock, facing 
my way. In his hands was a thick- 
barreled electronic projector. 

I could not advance: that was obvi- 
ous. The moonlight lay in a, clear clean 
patch beyond the archway. The guard 
stood at its edge. 

A MINUTE or \two had passed. 
Perona was st\ll talking vehe- 
mently. I was losing it: not a word wai 
audible. Yet 1 felt that if I Could hear 
Perona now, much that JHaflley and I 
wanted to learn would be made clear 
to us. My little microphone receiver 
could be adjusted for audible air vi- 
brations. I crouched and held it cau- 
tiously above my head with its face, 
like a listening ear, turned toward the 
distant men. My single-vacuum ampli- 
fication brought up the sound until 
their voices sounded like whispers 
murmured in my ear-grids. 
"De Boer, listen to me — * 
Perona's voice. They must have been 
chance words spoken loudly. It was all 
I could hear, save tantalizing, unintel- 
ligible murmurs. ** 

So this was De Boer, the bandit I The 
big fellow pacing before Perona. I 
wanted infinitely more, now, to hear 
what was being said. 

I thought of Hanley. There might 
be a way of handling this. 

I had to murmur very softly. I was 
hidden in these shadows from the 
guard's sight, but be was close enough 
to hear my normal voice. I chanced 
it. A wind was sucking through the 
archway with an audible Whine: the 
guard might not hear me. 
"X, 2, AY." 

The sorter's desk. He came in. I 
murmured Hanley's rating. "Rush. 
Danger. Special" 



J ETTA OF THE LOWLANDS 



327 



It went swiftly, through. Hanley, 
thank Heaven, was at his desk. 

I PLUGGED in my little image find- 
er; held it over my head; turned 
it slowly* I whispered : 

"Look around, Chief. See where I 
am ? Near Nareda ; couple of miles out. 
F»Uowed Perona; he met these men. 

"The big one is De Boer, the depth 
bandit. I can't hear what they're say- 
ing — but I can send yon their voice 
murmurs." 

"Amplify them all you can. Relay 
them up," Hanley ordered. 

I caught Perona's murmurs again; I 
iwung them through my tiny trans- 
formers and off my transmitter points 
into the ether. 
"Hear them. Chief T 
"Yes. I'll try further amplification." 
It was what I had intended. Han- 
ley's greater power might be able to 
amplify those murmurs into audible 
strength. 
"I'm getting them, Phil" 
He swung them back to me. Gro- 
tesquely distorted, blurred with tube- 
hum and interference crackle, they 
roared in my ear-grids so loudly that 
I saw the nearby guard turn his head 
as though startled. Listening. . . . 

But evidently he concluded it was 
nothing. 

I cut down the volume. Hanley 
twitched in. 
"By God, Phil I This—" 
"Off, Chief I Let me hear, tooT 

HE cut away. Those distorted 
voices I They came from Perona 
and the bandits to me across this five 
hundred-foot moonHt bowl; from me, 
thirteen hundred miles up to Hanley*s 
instruments; and back to me once 
more. But the words, most of them, 
now were distinguishable. 

Perona's voice: "I tell it to you, De 
Boer . . . and a good chance for you 
to make the money." 
"But wilj they pay f 
"Of course they will pay. Big. A 
Bnsnm princely." 



"And why, Perona? Why princely? 
Who is this fellow — so important?" 

"He is with rich business men, I tell 
to you." 

"A private citi2en?" 

". . . And a private citizen, of ■< 
surety. Fool ! Have you come to be a 
coward, De Boer?" 

"Pah I" 

"Well then I tell you it is a Bfetime 
chance. All of it I have arranged. If 
he was a government agent, that would 
be very different, for they^are very' 
keen, this administration of the Ameri- 
can government, to protect their 
agents. But their private citizens — it 
is a scandal I Do you not ever pick the 
newscasters' reports, De Boer? Has it 
not been a scandal that this administra- 
tion does very little for its citizens 
abroad?" 

"And you want to get rid of this fel- 
low? Why, Perona?" 

'That is not your concern. The ran- 
som is to be all yours. Make away with 
him — in the depths somewhere. De- 
mand your ransom. Fifty thousand 
gold-standards l> Demand it of me. Of 
Nareda!" 

"And you will pay it?** 

"I promise it. Nareda will pay it — 
and Nareda will collect the ransom 
from the American capitalists. Very 
easy." 

His voice fell lower. "Between us, 
you will get the ransom money from 
Nareda — and then kill your prisoner if 
you like. Call it an accident; what 
matter? And dead men are silent men, 
De Boer. I will see that no real pur- 
suit is made after you." 

THEY were talking about me I It 
was obvious. Questions rushed at 
me. Perona, planning with this bandit 
to abduct mc. Hold me for ransom. 
Or kill me I But Perona knew that I 
was not a private citizen. He was ly- 
ing to DeBoer, to persuade him. 

Why this attack upon me? Was 
Spawn in on it? Why were they so 
anxious to get rid of me? Because of 
Jetta? Or because I was dangeroaa. 



328 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



prying into their smuggling activities. 
Or both? 

De Boer: ". . . Get up with my men 
through the streets to Spawn's house? 
You have it fixed?" 

"Yes. Over the route from here as 
I told you, there are no police to-night, 
I have ordered them off. In the garden. 
DiosI You offer so many objections I 
I tell you all is fixed. In an hour, half 
an hour ; even now, perhaps, the Ameri- 
cano is in the garden. The girl has 
promised to meet him there. He will 
be there, fear not. Will you go?" 

"Yes." * j 

"Hah I That is the De Boer I have 
always admired I" 

I could see them in the moonlight 
across the pit. Perona now standing 
up, the giant figure of the bandit tow- 
ering over him. 

HANLEVS microscopic Voice cut 
in: "Getting it, Phil? To seize 
you for ransom I" 
"Yes. I hear it." 
'This girl. Who— r 
"Wait, Chief. Off— " 
De Boer : "I will do it I Fifty thou- 
sand." 

Perona : "An hour, now. Spawn will 
be at his home asleep." 

"And you will go to the mine?" 

"Yea. Now, from here. You seize, 
this fellow Grant, and then attack the 
mine. Our regular plan, De Boer. This 
does not change it." 

Attack Spawn's mine I Half a mil- 
lion of treasure was there to-night I 

Perona waB chuckling: "You give 
Spawn's guards the signal. They are 
all my men — in my pay. They will run 
away when you appear." 

Hanley cut in again. "By the gods, 
they're after that treasure I Phil, lis- 
ten to me I you must. ." His voice 
faded. " 

"Chief, I can't hear you!" 

Hanley came again : . . And I 
will notify Porto Rico. The local pa- 
trol will be about ready to leave." 

"Or notify Nareda headquarters," I 
suggested. "If you can get President 



Markes, he can send some police to 
the mine—" 

"And find all Nareda's police .bribed 
by Perona? Ill get Porto Rico. We 
have an hour or two; the patrol can 
reach you in an hour." 

The bandits were preparing to leave 
here. Two or three of thtlm had gone 
to the flyer. Perona and De Boer were 
parting. 

". . . Well, that is all, De Boer." 
"Right, Seftor Perona, I will start 
Bhortly." 

"On foot, by the street route to. 
Spawn's — " 

Hartley's hurried voice came back: 
Tve sent the call to Porto Rica" 

THE guard had moved again. He 
was no more than forty feet away 
from me now — standing up gazing di- 
rectly toward where I was crouching 
over my tiny instruments in the shad- 
ows of the rocky arch. A footstep 
Bounded behind me, on the path out- 
side the arch. Someone approaching! 
A tiny light bobbing! > 
Then a voice calling, "Perona I De 
Boer I" 

The guard took a step forward; 
stopped, with levelled weapon. 

Then the voice again: it was so loud 
it went through my opened relay, 
flashed up to New York, and blew out 
half a dozen of Hartley's attuned vacu- 
ums. 

"Perona!" 

Spawn's voice! He was coming to- 
ward me! I lay prone, my little grids 
switched off. I held my breath. 

Spawn's figure went past within ten 
feet of me. But he did not Bee me. 

He met the guard. "Hello, Gutier- 
rez. The damned American — " 

Perona and De Boer came hastening. 
Spawn joined them in the moonlight 
just beyond the archway, close enough 
for me to hear them plainly. ' Spawn 
was out of breath, panting from his 
swift walk. He greeted them with i 
roar. 

"The American — he is gone!" 
"DiosI Gone where, Spawn?" 



J ETTA OF THE LOWLANDS 



329 



"The bell — how do I know, Perona? 
He i> gone from his room — from the 
house. Maybe he followed you here? 
Did her 

CHAPTER VII 
Behind the Sealed Door 

THERE was a moment when I think 
I might have escaped unseen from 
that archway. But I was too amazed 
jt Spawn's appearance to think of my 
ow4 situation. I 'had believed that 
Perona was plotting against Spawn, 
meeting these bandits in this secret 
place; I had just heard them planning 
to attack Spawn's mine — to rob it of 
die treasure doubtless, which I knew 
was stored there. 

Bat I realized now it was not a plot 
Igainst Spawn. He had come here 
swiftly to join Perona and tell him that 
I, their intended victim, was missing. 
He had greeted the bandit guard by 
name. He seemed, indeed, as well 
known to these bandits as Perona him- 
self. 

They stood now in a group some 
thirty feet away from me. I could hear 
their excited voices perfectly clearly. 
My instruments were off; but I recall 
that as I listened to Spawn I was also 
sware of the tingle of the electrode- 
hand on my chest — Hanley, vigorously 
calling, me back to find dut why I had 
10 summarily disconnected. 

"I took him to his room," Spawn was 
explaining excitedly. "De duvel, why 
should I have sealed him in? Howir 
could I? He is no child I" 

De Boer laughed caustically. "And 
^•o he has Walked away from you? I 
think I am a fool to mix myself with 
you two." 

Perona retorted, "I have made you 
rich, De Boer. Think what you like: 
to-night is the end of our partnership. 
Only, you do what I have told you to- 
night" 

"Hah I How can I ? Your American 
has flown his trap." 

This guard — this Gutierrez, as Spawn 
had called him — was listening with in- 



terest. De Boer's several other men 
were gathered there. I felt myself safe 
where I was, for the moment at least. 

IcW Hanley in. "Chief, they're 
closer! Spawn has cornel They've 
missed me ! I'll relay what they're say- 
ing, but you step it down: there's too 
much volume." 

"You're all right, Phil? Thank 
Heaven for that I Something blew my 
vacuums." 
"Chief, listen — here they are — " 
Perona : "But he will be back. In the 
garden now, no doubt, with Jetta." , 
De Boer: "Ah—the little Jettal So 
she is there. Spawn ? Not in years have 
you spoken of your daughter. A young 
lady now, I suppose.- Is it so?" 

Spawn cursed. "We leave her out of 
this. You follow the Sefior's plan." 

"Come to your house? /ou think 
the bird will be there for me to seize?" 

"Yes," Perona put in. "You go there ; 
in an hour. Then to the mine." 

Spawn undoubtedly was in this plot 
to attack his mine I He said, "At the 
mine we have arranged everything. 
Damn this American! But for Perona 
I would not bother with him." 

"But you will bother," Perona inter- 
jected. 

De Boer laughed again. "I would be 
witless could I not figure this! He is 
a young man, and so handsome he has 
frightened you with the little Jettal 
Is that it, Perona? Jealous, eh?" 

I had been holding the image finder 
so that Hanley might see them. Han- 
ley's voice rattled my ear-grid. "Phil I 
Get away from there I Look I De Boer 
is searching I" 

DE BOER had, a moment before, 
spoken quietly aside to Gutier- 
rez. And now three or four of the men 
were spreading qut, poking about with 
small hand-flashest Searching for me! 
The possibility that I might be here, 
eavesdropping I 

Hanley repeated vehemently, "Phil, 
they'll find you I Get out of there: the 
way is still open!" 



330 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



Gutierrez was approaching the arch- 
way. But I lingered a moment longer. 

"Chief, you heard about that girl, 
Jetta, Spawn's daughter — " 

I stopped. Perona was saying, 
"Spawn, was Jetta still in her room? 
You did not untie her?" 

"No." 

"And gagged? Suppose the Ameri- 
cano was back there now? She might 
call to him, and he would release her — " 

De Boer: "How do you know he is 
not around here? Listening?" 

With the assumption that I might be 
within hearing, De Boer tried to trap 
me. Gutierrez, at a signal now, sud- 
denly dashed through the archway and 
planted himself on the path outside. 
The other searchers spread their rays; 
the rocks all about me were lighted. 
But my niche was still untouched. 

De Boer: "If he is around here — " 

Perona: "He could not have followed 
me ; t was too careful." 

I was murmuring: "Chief, they've 
got that girl." t 

"Phil, you get awayt Go to Markes. 
Stay with him." 

"But Chief, that Jetta, I—" 

"Keep out of this! You're only one; 
you can't help any I I've sent for the 
Porto Rican patrol ship to handle this." 

"Chief, I'm going back to Spawn's." 

"No—" 

I cut off abruptly. In another mo- 
ment I would have been discovered. 
The searchers were headed directly for 
me. 

I MOVED, crouching, back along the 
inner wall of the archway. The 
moon was momentarily behind a cloud. 
It was black under the arch; and cut 
front it was so dim I could only see 
the faint blob of Gutierrez's standing 
figure, and the spot of his flashlight. 

Perona: "He is not around here, De 
Boer. That is foolish." 

Spawn: "He could* have gone any- 
where. Maybe a walk around the vil- 
lage." 

Perona: "Go back home. Spawn. De 
Boer will come — " 



"their voices faded as I moved away, 
A searching bandit behind me poked 
with his light into the crevice where a 
moment before I had been crouching, 
I moved faster. Only Gutierrez now 
was in front of me. He; was at the far 
end of the arch. I could slip past, and 
still be fifty feet from tim — if I could 
avoid his swinging littl : light-beam. 

I was running now, ci ancing that he 
would hear me. I was on the path; I 
could see it vaguely. 

From behind me ca ne a sizzling 
flash, and the ting of th: flying needle 
as it missed me by a foi t. 

"The Americano! He goes there!" 

Another shot. The shouts of the 
bandits in the archway. A turmoil 
back there. 

But it was all behind' me. I leaped 
sidewise off the path at Guitierrer' 
small light-beam swept it. I ran stum- 
bling through a stubble of boulden, 
around an upstanding rack spire, back 
to the path again. 

There were other shots. Then De 
Boer's voice, faint by distance : "Stop! 
Fools! We will alarm the village! 
The landing field can see our shots 
from here! Take it eaiy! You can't 
get him!" 

The turmoil quieted. II went around 
a bend in the path, running swiftly. 

Pursuit was behind m< . I could hear 
them coming. 

IT was a run of no mor : than ten min- 
utes to the junctior where, down 
the slope, I could see th t lights of the 
landing field. 

The glow of the village was ahead of 
me. Then I was in its outskirts. Occa- 
sional dark houses. Deserted streets. 

I slowed to a fast walk) I was breath- 
less, panting in the heat.': 

I heard no pursuit novf. But Spawn 
and the rest of them doubtless were 
after me. Would they head back for 
Spawn's inn? I thought they would. 
But I could beat them back there; I 
was sure there was no shorter route 
than this I was taking. 

Would they use theia 1 fiver? That 



JETTA OF THE LOWLANDS 



331 



would not gain them any time, what 
with launching it and landing, for so 
ihort a flight. And a bandit flyer could 
not very well land unseen or unnoticed, 
even in somnolent Nareda. 

I reached the main section of the vil- 
lage. There were occasional lights and 
pedestrians. My haste was noticeable, 
but I was not accosted. There seemed 
no police about. I recalled Perona's 
remark that he had attended to that. 

My electrode was tingling. I had 
been running again. I slowed down. 

"Chief?" 

"Phil." His voice carried relief. 
"You got away ?" 

"Yes. I'm in the village." 

"Go to President Market." 

"No, I'm headed for Spawn's! 
They're all behind me; I can get there 
l few minutes ahead of them." 

1 PANTED an exclamation, inco- 
herently, but frankly, about Jetta. 
"I'm going to get her out of there." 
"Phil, what in hell—" 
I told him. 

"So you've fallen in love with a girl? 
fEn tangled — " 
"Chief!" 

"Go after her, Phil ! Got her bound 
and gagged, have they? Going to 
marry her to this Perona? Like the 
Middle Ages?" 

I had never seen this side of Hanley. 

"Get her if you want her. Get her 
est of -there. Take her to Markes — 
No, I wouldn't trust anybody in Na- 
reda I Take her into the uplands be- 
hind the village. But keep away from 
that mine! Have you got flash-fuses?" 

"Yes." 

I was within sight of Spawn's house. 

The street was dim and deserted. I 

was running again. 
I panted, "I'm — almost at Spawn's)" 
"Good I When it's over, whatever 

happens up there at the mine, then sig- 

ul the patrol." / 



"Yes." 

I reached Spawn's front gate. The 
honse and front garden were dark. 

"Use your fuses, Phil. What colors?" 

"I have red and blue." 

"I'll talk to the patrol ship again. 
Tell them to watch for you. Red and 
blue. Two short red flashes, a long 
blue." 

"Right, Chief. I'm here at Spawn's, 
cutting off." 

"Come back on when you can." His 
voice went anxious again. "I'll wait 
here." 

"All right." 

I cut silent. I ran through the front 
doorway of Spawn's mn. The living 
room was dim and empty. Which way 
was Jetta's room? I could only guess. 

I had a few minutes,, perhaps, before 
my pursuers would arrive. 

I REACHED the inner, patio garden. 
The moon was well out from under 
the clouds now. The patio shimmered, 
a silent, deserted fairyland. 

"Jetta I" I called it softly. Then 
louder. "Jetta I" 

Spawn's house was fairly large and 
rambling. There ,were so many rooms. 
Jetta was gagged: how could she an- 
swer me? But I had no time to search 
for her. 
"Jetta?" 

And then came her voice. "Philip?" 
"Jetta! Which way? Where are 
you?" 

"Here I This way; in my room." 

A window and a door near the per- 
gola. "Jetta!" 

"Yes. I am in here. They tied me 
up. Not so loud, Phil: father will hear 
you." ' 

"He's gone out." 

I reached her garden door. Turned 
its handle. Rattled the door. Shoved 
frantically with my shoulder I 

The metal door was firmjy sealed! 
(To be continued) 



The Terrible Tentacles of L-472 



By Sewell Petulee Wright 



IT was a big mistake. I should not 
have done it. By birth, by in- 
stinct, by training, by habit, I am 
a man of action. Or I was. It is 
queer that an old 
man cannot re- 
member that he 
is no longer 



young. 

But it was a mistake for me to men 



• Editor's Note: "The Forgotten Planet," 
of Astounding Storicl. f 



tion that I had recorded, for the ar- 
chives of the Council, the history of a 
certain activity 01 the Special Patror— 
a bit of secret history* which may not 
be mentioned 
here. Now they 
irjsist — by "they" 
I refer to the 
Chiefs of the Spe- 
cial Patrol Service — that I write of 
other achievements ot t the Serviet,- 
]0t »"» other adventures worthy of note. 
1 - 332 



Commander John Hanson of the Special 
Patrol Service record* another of hit 
thrilling interplanetary assignments. 



THE TERRIBLE TENTACLES OF L-472 



333 



Perhaps that is the penalty of be- 
coming old. From commander of the 
Budi, one of the greatest of the Special 
Patrol ships, to the duties of recording 
ancient history, for younger men to 
read and dream about. That is a 
ahrewd blow to one'B pride. 

But if I can, in some small way, add 
lnster to the record of my service, it 
will be a fitting task for a man grown 
old and gray in that service; work for 
hands too weak and palsied for sterner 
duties. 

But I shall tell my stories in my own 
way; after all, they are my stories. And 
I shall tell the stories that appeal to me 
most. The universe has had enough 
and too much of dry history; these 
■hall be adventurous tales to make the 
blood of a young man who reads them 
run a trifle faster — and perhaps the* 
blood of the old man who writes them. 

This, the first, shall be the story of 
the star L-472. You know it to-day as 
Ibit, port-o'-call for interplanetary 
■hips, and source of ocrite for the uni- 
verse, but to me it will always be L-472, 
the world of terrible tentacles. 

MY story begins nearly a hundred 
years ago— reckoned in terms of 
Earth time, which is proper, since I am 
a native of Earth — when I was a young 
man. I was sub-commander, at the 
time, of the Kalid, one of the early 
ships of the Special Patrol. 

We had been called to Zenia on spe- 
cial orders, and Commander Jamison, 
after an absence of some two hours, re- 
turned to the Kalid with his face shin- 
ing, one of his rare smiles telling me in 
advance that he had news — and good 
news. 

He hurried me up to the deserted 
navigating room and waved me to a 
■eat. 

"Hanson," he said, "I'm glad to be 
the first to congratulate you. You are 
now Commander John Hanson, of the 
Special Patrol Ship Kalid!" 
"Sir," I gasped, "do you mean — " 
His smile broadened. From the 
breast pocket of the trim blue and sil- 



ver uniform of our Service he drew a 
long, crackling paper. 

"Your commission," he said. "I'm 
taking over the Borelis." 

It was my turn to extend congratu- 
lations then ; the Borelis was the new- 
est and greatest ship of the Service. 
We shook hands, that ancient gesture 
of food-fellowship on Earth. But as 
our hands unclasped, Jamison's face 
grew suddenly grave. 

"I have more than this news for you, 
however," he said slowly. "You are to 
have a chance to earn your comet 
hardly." 

I SMILED broadly at the mention of 
the comet, the silver insignia, worn 
over the heart, that would mark my fu- 
ture rank as commander, replacing the 
four-rayed star of a sub-commander 
which I wore now on my tunic. 

"Tell me more, sir," I said confi- 
dently. 

"You have heard of the Special Pa- 
trol Ship Filanus?" asked my late com- 
mander gravely. 

"Reported lost in space," I replied 
promptly. 

"And the Dorlos?" 

"Why — yes; she was at Base here at 
our last call," I said, searching his face 
anxiously. "Pe,ter Wilson was Second 
Officer on her — one of my best friends. 
Why do you ask about her, sir?" 

"The Dorlos is missing also," said 
Commander Jamison solemnly. "Both 
of these ships were sent upon a partic- 
ular mission. Neither of them has re- 
turned. It is concluded that some com- 
mon fate has overtaken them. TKi 
Kalid, under your command, is com- 
missioned to investigate these disap- 
pearances. 

"You are not charged with the mis- 
sion of these other ships; your orders 
are to investigate their disappearance. 
The course, together with the official 
patrol orders, I shall hand you present- 
ly, but with them go verbal orders. 

"You are to lay and keep the course 
designated, which will take you well 
out of the beaten path to a small world 



334 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



which has not been explored, but which 
has been circumnavigated a number of 
times by various ships remaining just 
outside the atmospheric envelope, and 
found to be without evidence of intel- 
ligent habitation. In other words, 
without cities, roads, canals, or other 
evidence of human handiwork or civili- 
zation. 

"T BELIEVE your instructions give 
X. you some of this information, but 
not all of it. This world, unnamed be- 
cause of its uninhabited condition, is 
charted only as L-472. Your larger 
charts will show it, I am sure. The at- 
mosphere is reported to be breatheable 
by inhabitants of Earth and other be- 
ings having the same general require- 
ments. Vegetation is reported as dense, 
covering the five continents of the 
world to the fcdges of the northern and 
southern polar caps, which are small. 
Topographically, the country is rugged 
in the extreme, with many peaks, ap- 
parently volcanic, but now inactive 
or extinct, on all of its five large con- 
tinents." 

"And am I to land there, sir?" I 
asked eagerly. 

"Your orders are very specific upon 
that point," said Commander Jamison. 
"You are not to land until you have 
carefully and thoroughly reconnoitered 
from above, at low altitude. You will 
exercise every possible precaution. 
Your specific purpose is simply this: 
to determine, if possible, the fate of 
the other two ships, and report your 
findings at, once. The Chiefs of the 
Service will then consider the matter, 
and take whatever action may seem ad- 
visable to them." Jamison rose to his 
feet and thrust out his hand in Earth's 
fine old salute of farewell. 

"I must be going, Hanson," he -said. 
"I wish this patrol were mine instead 
of yours. You are a young man for 
such a responsibility." 

"But," I replied, with the glowing 
confidence of youth, "I have the advan- 
tage of having served under Comman- 
der Jamison I" 



HE smiled as we shook again, tad 
shook his head. 
"Discretion can be learned only by 
experience," he said. "But I wish yon 
success, Hanson ; on this undertakiag, 
and on many others. Supplies are on 
their way now; the Grew will return 
from leave within the hour. A young 
Zenian, name of Dival, I believe, is de- 
tailed to accompany you as scientific 
observer — purely unofficial capacity, of 
course. He has been ordered to report 
to you at once. You »re to depart ai 
soon as feasible: you know what that 
means. I believe that's all — Oh, yes 1 1 
had almost forgotten. 

"Here, in this envelope, are your or- 
ders and your course,; as well as all 
available data on L-472. In this little 
casket is — your comet, Hanson. I know 
you will wear it with honor I" 

"Thank you, sir I" I said, a bit hus- 
kily. I saluted, and Commander Jami- 
son acknowledged the gesture with 
stiff precision. Commander Jamison 
always had the reputation of being 
something of a martinet. 

When he had left,- 1 picked up the 
thin blue envelope he had left. Across 
the face of the envelope, in the — to my 
mind — jagged and unbeautiful Univer- 
sal script, was my name, followed by 
the proud title: "Commander, Special 
Patrol Ship Kalid." ^tfy first orders I 

There was a small oyal box, of blue 
leather, with the silver ejrest of the Ser- 
vice in bas-relief on th* lid. I opened 
the case, and gazed with shining eyes 
at the gleaming silver comet that 
nestled there. > 

Then, slowly, I unfastened the four- 
rayed star on my left breast, and placed 
in its stead the insignia of my com- 
mandership. 

Worn smooth and shiny now, it is 
still my most precious possession. 



KINCAIDE. my Second 
turned and smiled as I 



officer, 
entered 
the navigating room. 

"L-472 now registers maximum at- 
traction, sir," he reported. "Dead ahead, 
and coming up nicely. My last figures, 



THE TERRIBLE TENTACLES OF L-472 



33S 



completed about five minutes ago, indi- 
cate that we should reach the gaseous 
envelope in about ten hours." Kincaide 
was a native of Earth, and we common- 
ly uBed^Earth time-measurements in 
our conversation. As is still the case, 
■hips of the Special Patrol Service 
were commanded without exception by 
natives of Earth, and the entire officer 
personnel hailed largely from the same 
planet, although I have had several 
Zenian officers of rare ability and 
courage. 

I nodded and thanked him for the 
report. Maximum attraction, eh? That, 
considering the small size of our ob- 
jective, meant we were much closer to 
L-472 than to any other regular body. 

Mechanically, I studied the various 
dials about the room. The attraction 
meter, as Kincaide had said, registered 
several degrees of attraction, and the 
red slide on the rim of the dial was 
■quarely at the top, showing that the 
attraction was coming from the world 
at which our nose was pointed. The 
■urface-temperature gauge was at nor- 
mal. Internal pressure, normal. Inter- 
nal moisture-content, a little high. 
Kincaide, watching me, spoke up: 

"I have already given orders to dry 
out, sir," he said. 

"Very good, Mr. Kincaide. It's a 
long trip, and I want the crew in good 
condition." I studied the two charts, 
one showing our surroundings lateral- 
ly, the other vertically, all bodies about 
u represented as glowing spots of 
green light, of varying sizes; the ship 
itself as a tiny scarlet spark. Every- 
thing shipshape; perhaps a degree or 
two of elevation when we were a little 
closer — 

"May I come in, sir?" broke in a 
gentle, high-pitched voice. 

"Certainly, Mr. Dival," I replied, an- 
swering in the Universal language in 
which the request had been made. "You 
•re always very welcome." Dival was 
I typical Zenian of the finest type; 
■Iim,very dark, and with the amazing- 
ly intelligent eyes of his kind. His 
nice was very soft and gentle, and like 



the voice of all his people, clear and 
high-pitched. 

"Thank you," he said. "I guess I'm 
over-eager, but there's something about 
~~ this mission of ours that worries me. I 
seem to feel — " He broke off abruptly 
and began pacing back and forth across 
the room. 

I STUDIED him, frowning. The Ze- 
nians have a strange way of being 
right about such things; their high- 
strung, sensitive natures seem capable 
of responding to those delicate, vagrant 
forces which even now are only incom- 
pletely understood and classified. 

"You're not used to work of this 
sort," I replied, as bluffly and heartily 
as possible. "There's nothing to worry 
about." 

"The commanders of the two ships 
that disappeared probably felt the 
same way, sir," said Dival. "I should 
have thought the Chiefs of the Special 
Patrol Service would have sent several 
ships on a mission such as this." 

"Easy to say," I laughed bitterly. 
"If the Council would pass the appro- 
priations we need, we might have ships 
enough so that we could send a fleet 
of ships when we wished. Instead of 
that, the Council, in its infinite wis- 
dom, builds greater laboratories and 
schools of higher learning — and lets 
the Patrol get along as best it can." 

"It was from the laboratories and 
the schools of higher learning that all 
these things sprang," replied Dival 
quietly," glancing around at the array 
of instruments which made navigation 
in space possible. 

"True," I admitted rather shortly. 
"We must work together. And as for 
what we shall find upon the little 
world ahead, we shall be there in nine 
or ten hours. You may wish to make 
some preparations." 

"Nine or ten hours? That's Earth 
time, isn't it? Let's see: about two 
and a half enaros?" 

"Correct," I smiled. The Universal 
method of reckoning time^ had never 
appealed to me. For those ofmy read- 



336 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



era who may only be familiar with 
Earth time measurements, an enar is 
about eighteen Earth days, an enaren 
a little less than two Earth days, and 
an enaro nearly four and a half hours. 
The Universal system has the advan- 
tage, I admit, of a decimal division; 
but I have found it clumsy always. I 
may be stubborn and old-fashioned, 
but a clock face with only ten nume- 
rals and one hand still strikes me as 
being unbeautiful and inefficient. 

"Two and a half enaros," repeated 
Dival thoughtfully. "I believe I shall 
see if I can get a little sleepnow; I 
should- not have broughT~my books 
with me, I'm afraid. I read when I 
should sleep. Will you call me should 
there be any developments of in- 
terest?" 

I assured him that he would be 
called as he requested, and he left. 

"Decent sort of /a chap, sir," ob- 
served Kincaide, glancing at the door 
through which Dival had just de- 
parted. 

"A student," I nodded, with the con- 
tempt of violent youth for the man of 
gentler pursuits than mine, and turned 
my attentions to some calculations for 
entry in the log. 

BUSIED with the intricate details 
of my task, time passed rapidly. 
The watch changed, and I joined my 
officers in the tiny arched dining salon. 
It was during the meal that I noticed 
for the first time a sort of tenseness; 
every member of the mess was unusu- 
ally quiet. And though I would not 
have admitted it then, I was not with- 
out a good deal of nervous restraint 
myself. 

"Gentlemen," I remarked when the 
meal was finished, "I believe you un- 
derstand our present mission. Prim- 
arily, our purpose is to ascertain, if 
possible, the fate of two ships that 
were sent here and have not returned. 
We are now close enough for reason- 
able observation by means of the tele- 
vision disc, I believe, and I shall take 
over its operation myself. k 



"There is no gainsaying the fact 
that whatever fate overtook the two 
other Patrol ships, may lay in wait fat 
us. My orders are to observe every 
possible precaution, and, to return with 
a report. I am going to ask that each 
of you proceed immediately to hii 
post, and make ready, in so far as pos- 
sible, for any eventuality. Warn the 
watch which has just gone off to be 
ready for instant duty. The disinte- 
grator ray generators should be started 
and be available for instant emergency 
use, maximum power. Have the bomb- 
ing crews stand by for orders." 

"What do you anticipate, sir?" asked 
Correy, my new sub-commander. The 
other officers waited tensely for my re- 
ply. 

"I don't know, Mr. Correy," I ad- 
mitted reluctantly. "V^e have no in- 
formation upon which to base an as- 
sumption. We do know that two ahipa 
have been sent here, and neither of 
them have returned. Something pre- 
vented that return. We must en- 
deavor to prevent that same fate from 
overtaking the Kalid — and ourselves." 

HURRYING back to the navigat- 
ing room, I posted myself beside 
the cumbersome, old-fashioned tele- 
vision instrument. L-472 was near 
enough now to occupy the entire field, 
with the range hand at maximum. One 
whole continent and parts of two 
others were visible. Not many detail! 
could be made out. 

I waited grimly while* an hour, two 
hours, went by. My field narrowed 
down to one continent, to a part of one 
continent. I glanced up at the surface 
temperature gtfuge and noted that the 
hand was registering i few degrees 
above normal. Correy, who had re- 
lieved Kpricaide as navigating officer, 
followed my gaze. 

'-'Shall we reduce speed, sir?" he 
asked crisply. 

"To twice atmospheric speed," I 
nodded. "When we inter the en- 
velope proper, reduce to normal atmos- 
pheric speed. Alter your course upon 



THE TERRIBLE TENTACLES OP L-472 



337 



entering the atmosphere proper, and 
work back and forth along the emerg- 
ing twilight zone, from the north 
polar cap to the southern cap, and so 
on." 

"Yes, sirT he replied, and repeated 
the orders to the control room forward. 

I pressed the attention signal to Di- 
val's cubicle, and informed him that 
we were entering the outer atmos- 
pheric fringe. 

"Thank you, sir P' he said eagerly. "I 
shall be with you immediately." 

In rapid succession I called various 
officers and gave terse orders. Double 
crews on duty in the generator com- 
partment, the ray projectors, the 
atomic bomb magazines and release 
tubes. Observers at all observation 
posts, operators at the two smaller tele- 
vision instruments to comb the terrain 
and report instantly any object of in- 
terest. With the three of us search- 
ing, it seemed incredible that anything 
could .escape us. At atmospheric alti- 
tudes even the two smaller television 
instruments would, be able to pick out 
a body the size of one of the missing 
•hips. 



DIVAL entered the room as I fin- 
ished giving my orders. 
"A strange world, Dival," I com- 
mented, glancing towards the tele- 
vision instrument. "Covered with trees, 
even the mountains, and what I pre- 
sume to be volcanic peaks. They crowd 
right down to the edge of the water." 

He adjusted the focusing lever 
•lightly, his face lighting up with the 
interest of a scientist gazing at a 
strange specimen, whether it 
microbe or a new world. 



as though he had not ever heard me. 
"Not in the visible portion, at any 
rate." ) 

I was about to reply, when I felt the 
peculiar surge of the Kalid as she re- 
duced speed. I glanced at the indicator, 
watching the hand drop slowly to at- 
mospheric speed. ^ 

"Keep a close watch, Dival," I or- 
dered. "We shall change our course 
now, to comb the country for traces of 
two ships we are seeking. If you see 
the least suspicious sign, let me know 
immediately." 



H 



E nodded, and for a time there 
was only a tense silence in the 



"Strange. . . strange 



room, broken at intervals by Correy as 
he spoke briefly into his microphone, 
giving orders to the operating room. 

Perhaps an hour went by. I am 
not sure. It seemed like a longer time 
than that. Then Dival called out in 
sudden excitement, his high, thin voice 
stabbing the silence : 

"Here, sir I . Look I A little clearing 
— artificial, I judge — and the ship* I 
Both of them I" 

"Stop the ship, Mr. Correy I" I 
snapped as I hurried to the instrument. 
"Dival, take those reports." I ges- 
tured towards the two attention sig- 
nals that were glowing and softly hum- 
ming and thrust my head into the shel- 
ter of the television instrument's big 
hood. 

Dival had made no mistake. Directly 
beneath me, as I looked, was a clearing, 
a perfect square with rounded corners, 
obviously blasted out of the solid for- 
est by the delicate manipulation of 
be «A sharply focused disintegrator rays. 
\ \And upon the naked, pitted surface 



ttred. "A universal vegetation . . no 
variation of type from equator to polar 
cap, apparently. And the water— did 
you notice its color, sir?" 

"Purple," I nodded. "It varies on 
the different worlds, you know. I've 
seen pink, red, white and black seas, 
is well as the green and blue of Earth." 
"And no small islands," he went on, 



he mut- thus exposed, side by side in orderly 



array, were the missing ships I 

I STUDIED the strange scene with 
a heart that thumped excitedly 
against my ribs. 

What should I do? Return and re- 
port? Descend and investigate? There 
was no sign of life around the ships, 
and no evidence of damage. If I 



338 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



brought the KaJid down, would she 
make a third to remain there, to be 
marked "lost in space" on the records 
of the Service? 

Reluctantly, I drew my head from 
beneath the shielding hood. 

"What were the two reports, Dival?" 
I asked, and my voice was thick. "The 
other two television observers?" 

"Yes, sir. They report that they can- 
not positively identify the ships with 
their instruments, but feel cej^sin that 
they are the two we seek." 

"Very good. Tell them, please, to 
remain on watch, searching space in 
every direction, and to report instant- 
ly anything suspicious. Mr. ,Correy, 
we will descend until this small clear- 
ing becomes visible, through the ports, 
to the unaided eye. I will give you the 
corrections to bring us directly over 
the clearing." And I read the finder 
scales of the television instrument 'to 
him. 

He rattled off the figures, calculated 
an instant, and gave his orders to the ' 
control room, while I kept the tele- 
vision instrument bearing upon, the 
odd clearing and the two motionless, 
deserted ships. 

AS we settled, I could make out the 
insignia of the ships, could see 
the pitted, stained earth of the clear- 
ing, brown with the dust of disinte- 
gration. I could see the surrounding 
trees very distinctly, now; they 
seemed very similar to our weeping 
willows, on Earth, which, I perhaps 
should explain, since it is impossible 
for the average individual to have a 
comprehensive knowledge of the flora 
and fauna of the entire known Uni- 
verse, is a tree of considerable size, 
having long, hanging branches arching 
from its crown and reaching nearly to 
the ground. These leaves, like typical 
willow leaves, were long and slender, 
of rusty gTeen color. The trunks and 
branches seemed to be black or dark 
brown; and the trees grew so thickly 
that nowhere between their branches 
was the ground visible. 



"Five thousand feet, si?," said Cor. 
rey. "Directly above the clearing. 
Shall we descend further?" 

"A thousand feet at a titne, Mr. Cor- 
rey," I replied, after a moment's hesi- 
tation. "My orders are toj exercise the 
utmost caution. Mr. Dival, please 
make a complete analysis Jff the atmos- 
phere. I believe you are familiar with 
the traps provided for the purpose ?T 

"Yes. You propose to land, sir?") 

"I propose to determine the fate of 
those two ships and the men who 
brought them here," I said with sudden 
determination. Dival made no- reply, 
but as he turned to obey orders, I saw 
that his presentiment of trouble had 
not left him. 

"Four thousand feet, sir," said .Cor- 
rey. 

I NODDED, studying the scene be- 
low us. The great hooded Instru- 
ment brought it within, ■ apparently, 
fifty feet of my eyes, but the great de- 
tail revealed nothing of i iterest. 

The two ships lay motonless, hud- 
dled close together. The great cir- 
cular door of each was ope n, as though 
opened that same day — era century 
before. 

"Three thousand feet, sir," said Cor- 
rey. j 

"Proceed at the same speed," I re- 
plied. Whatever fate hap overtaken 
the men of the other ships had caused 
them to disappear entirel) — and with- 
out sign of a struggle. Bi it what con- 
ceivable fate could that b :? 

"Two thousand feet, sirl" said Cor- 



rey. 



I 



'Good," I said grimly] "Continue 
with the descent, Mr. Correy." 

Dival hurried into the room as I 
spoke. His face was still clouded with 
foreboding. 

"I have tested the atmosphere, sir," 
he reported. "It is suitable for breath- 
ing by either men of Earth or Zenia. 
No trace of noxious gases of any kind. 
It is probably rather ratified, such as 
one might find on Earth : or Zenia at 
high altitudes." 



THE TERRIBLE TENTACLES OF L-472 



339 



"One thousand feet, aU," said Cor- 
rey. 

I hesitated an instant. Undoubted- 
ly the atmosphere had been tested by 
the other ships before they landed. In 
the case of the second ship, at any rate, 
those in command must have been on 
the alert against danger. And yet both 
of those ships lay there motionless, va- 
cant, deserted. 

I COULD feel the eyes of the men 
on me. My decision must be de- 
layed no farther. 

"We will land, Mr. Correy," I said 
grimly. "Near the two ships, please." 

"Very well, sir," nodded Correy, and 
■poke briefly into the microphone. 

"I might warn you, .sir," said f)ival 
quietly, "to govern your activities, 
once outside; free from the gravity 
pads of the ship, on a body of such 
■mall size, an ordinary step will prob- 
ably cause a leap of considerable dis- 
tance." 

"Thank you, Mr. Dival. That is a 
consideration I had overlooked. I shall 
warn the men. We must — " 

At that instant I felt the slight jar 
of landing. I glanced up; met Car- 
rey's grave glance squarely. 

"Grounded, sir," he slid quietly. 

"Very good, Mr. Cofrey. Keep the 
■hip ready for instant action, please, 
and call the landing crew to the for- 
ward exit. You will accompany us, Mr. 
Dival?" 

"Certainly, sir I" 

"Good. You understand your orders, 
Mr. Correy?" 
"Yes, sir I" 

"I returned his salute, and led the 
way out of the room, Dival close on my 
heels. 

THE landing crew was composed of 
all men not at regular stations; 
nearly half of the Kalid's entire crew. 
They were equipped with the small 
atomic power pistols as side-arms, and 
mere were two three-men disinte- 
grator ray squads. We all wore 
men ore*, which were unnecessary in 



the ship, but decidedly useful outside. 
I might add that the menore of those 
days was not the delicate, beautiful 
thing that it is to-day; it was a com- 
paratively crude and clumsy band of 
metal, in which were imbedded the vi- 
tal units and the tiny atomic energy 
generator, and was worn upon the head 
like a crown. But for all its clumsi- 
ness, it conveyed and received thought, 
and, after all, that was all we de- 
manded of it. 

I caught a confused jumble of ques- 
tioning thoughts as I came up, and 
took command of the situation prompt- 
ly. It will be understood, of course, 
that in those days men had not learned 
to blank their minds against the me- 
nore, as they do to-day. It took gene- 
rations of training to perfect that 
ability. 

"Open the exit," I ordered Kincaide, 
who was standing by the switch, key 
in the lock. 

"Yes, sir," he thought promptly, and 
unlocking the switch, released the 
lever. , 

The great circular door revolved 
swiftly, backing slowly on its fine 
threads, gripped by the massive gim- 
bals which, as at last the ponderous 
plug of ratal freed itself from its 
threads, swung the circular door aside, 
like the door of a vault. 

FRESH, clean air swept m, and we 
breathed it gratefully. Science 
can revitalize air, take out impurities 
and replace used-up bonstituents, but 
it cannot give it the freshness of pure 
natural air. Even the science of to- 
day. V 

"Mr. Kincaide, you I will stand by 
with five men. Under tio circumstances 
are you to leave your post until or- 
dered to do so. No rescue parties, un- 
der any circumstances, are to be sent 
out unless you have those orders di- 
rectly from me. Should any untoward 
thing happen to this party, you will in- 
stantly reseal this exit, reporting at the 
same time to Mr. Correy, who has his 
orders. You will not attempt to rescue 



340 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



us, bat will return to the Base and re- 
port in full, with Mr. Correy in com- 
mand. Is that clear?" 

"Perfectly," came back his response 
instantly; but I could sense the rebel- 
lion in his mind. Kincaide and I were 
old friends, as well as fellow officers. 

I smiled at him reassuringly, and di- 
rected my orders to the waiting men. , 

"You are aware of the fate of the 
two ships of the Patrol that have al- 
ready landed here," I thought slowly, 
to be sure they understood perfectly. 
"What fate overtook them, I do not 
know. That is what we are here to de- 
termine. 

"It is obvious that this is a danger- 
ous mission. I am ordering none of 
you to go. Any man who wishes to be 
relieved from landing duty may remain 
inside the ship, and may feel it no re- 
proach. Those who do go, should be 
constantly on the alert, and keep in 
formation, the usual column of twos. 
Be very careful, when stepping out of 
the ship, to adjust your stride to the 
lessened gravity of this small world. 
Watch this point I" I turned to Dival, 
motioned him to fall, in at my side. 
Without a backward glance, ' we 
marched out of the ship, treading very 
carefully to keep from leaping into the 
air with each step. 

Twenty feet away, I glanced back. 
There were fourteen men behind me — 
not a man of the landing crew had re- 
mained in the ship! 

"I km proud of you, men I" I thought 
heartily; and no emanation from any 
menore was ever more sincere. 

CAUTIOUSLY, eyes roving cease- 
lessly, we made our way towards 
the two silent ships. It seemed a quiet, 
peaceful world; an unlikely place for 
tragedy. The air was fresh and clean, 
although, as Dival had predicted, rare- 
fied like the air at an altitude. The 
willow-like trees that hemmed us in 
rustled gently, their long, frond-like 
branches with their rusty green leaves 
swaying. /\_^ 
"Do you. notice, sir," came a gentle 



thought from Dival, an emanation that 
could hardly have been perceptible to 
the men behind us, "that there is no 
wind — and yet the trees, yonder, are 
swaying and rustling?" 
i. I glanced around, startled. I had 
not noticed the absence Of a breeze. 

I tried to make my response reassur- 
ing: 

"There is probably a breeze higher 
up, that doesn't dip down into this lit- 
tle clearing," I ventured. "At any 
rate, it is not important.! These ships 
are what interest me. What will we 
find there?" 

"We shall soon know," replied Di- 
val. "Here is the Dor lot; the second 
of the two, was it not?" 

"Yes." I came to a halt beside the 
gaping door. There was no sound 
within, no evidence of life there, no 
sign that men had evetf crossed that 
threshold, save that the 1 ; whole fabric 
was the work of man's hands. 

"Mr. Dival and I will investigate the 
ship, with two of you men," I directed, 
"The rest of the detail will remain on 
guard, and give the alarm at the least 
sign of any danger. You 6rst two men, 
follow us." The indicated men nodded 
and stepped forward. Their "Yea, 
sirs" came surging through my me- 
nore like a single thought. Cautious- 
ly, Dival at my side, the two men at 
our backs, we stepped over the high 
threshold into the interior of the Doi- 
los. 

THE ethon tubes overhead made 
everything as light as day, and 
since the DorJos was a 'sister ship of 
my own Kalid, I had not the slightest 
difficulty in finding my way about. 
There was no sign of a disturbance 
? anywhere. Everything was in perfect 
order. From the evidence, it would 
seem that the officers and men of the 
Dorlos had deserted the ship of their 
own accord, and — -failed to return. 

"Nothing of value here," I com- 
mented to Dival. "We may as well—" 
There was a sudden commotion from 
outside the ship. Startled shouts rang 



THE TERRIBLE TENTACLES OF L-472 



341 



through the hollow hull, and a con- 
futed medley of excited thoughts came 
pouring in. 

With one accord the four of us 
dashed to the exit, Dival and I in the 
lead. At the door we paused, follow- 
ing the stricken gaze of the men 
grouped in a rigid knot jurft outside. 

Some forty feet away was the edge 
of the forest that hemmed us in. A for- 
est that now was lashing and writhing 
is though in the grip of some terrible 
hurricane, trunks bending and whip- 
ping, long branches writhing, curling, 
lathing out — 

Two of the men, air f shouted a 
aon-commissioned officer of the land- 
ing crew, as we appeared in the door- 
way. In his excitement he forgot his 
menore, and resorted to the infinitely 
ijower but more natural speech. "Some 
tort of insect came buzzing down — 
like an Earth bee, but larger. One of 
the men slapped it, and jumped aside, 
forgetting the low gravity here. He 
shot into the air, and another of the 
nen made a grab for him, They both 
vent sailing, and the trees — tookl" 

BUT I had already spotted the two 
men. The trees had them in their 
pip, long tentacles curled around 
them, a dozen of the great willow-like 
growths apparently figfiting for pos- 
Mstion of the prizes. And all around, 
far out of reach, the trees of the for- 
est were swaying restlessly, their long, 
pendulous branches, like tentacles, 
lisbing out hungrily. 

"The rays, sir I" snapped the thought 
tram Dival, like a flash of lightning. 
"Concentrate the beams— strike at the 

"Right I" My orders emanated on the 
keels of the thought more quickly than 
one word could have been uttered. The 
ax men who operated the disintegrator 
nyi were a rung out of their startled 
■mobility, and the soft hum of the 
stoma tic power generators deepened. 

"Strike at the trunks of the trees! 
Beams narrowed to minimum I Action 
at wilir 



The invisible rays swept long gashes 
into the forest as the trainers squatted 
behind their sights, directing the long, 
gleaming tubes. Branches crashed to 
the ground, suddenly motionless. 
Thick brown dust dropped heavily. A 
trunk, shortened by six inches or so, 
dropped into its stub and fell with a 
prolonged sound of rending wood. 
The trees against which it had fallen 
tugged angrily at their trapped ten- 
tacles. 

One of the men rolled free, stag- 
gered to his feet, and came lurching 
towards us. Trunk after trunk dropped 
onto its severed stub and fell among 
the lashing branches of its fellows. 
The other man was caught for a mo- 
ment in a mass of dead and motionless 
wood, but a cunningly directed ray dis- 
solved the entangling branches around 
him and he lay there, free but unable 
to arise. 

THE rays-, played on ruthlessly. 
The brown, heavy powder was 
falling like gTeasy soot. Trunk after 
trunk crashed to the ground, slashed 
into fragments. 

"Cease action!" I ordered, and in- 
stantly the eager whine of the gene- 
rators softened to a barely discernible 
hum. Two of the men, under orders, 
raced, out to the injured man ; the rest 
of us clustered around the first Of the 
two to be freed from the terrible ten- 
tacles of the trees. 

His menore was gone, his tight-fit- 
ting uniform was in shreds and 
blotched with blood. There was a huge 
crimson welt across his face, and blood 
dripped slowly from the tips of bis 
fingers. 

"GodV he muttered unsteadily as 
kindly arms lifted him with eager ten- 
derness. "They're alive I Like snakes. 
They — they're hungry!" 

"Take him to the ship," I ordered. 
"He is to receive treatment immediate- 
ly." I turned to the detail that was 
bringing in the other victim. The man 
was unconscious, and moaning, but 
suffering more from shock than any- 



342 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



thing else. A few minutes under the 
helio emanations and he would be fit 
for light duty. 

AS the men hurried him to the ship, 
I turned io Dival. He was stand- 
ing beside me, rigid, his face very pale, 
his eyes fixed on space. 

"What do you make of it, Mr. Di- 
val?" I questioned him. 

"Of the trees?" He seemed startled, 
as though I had aroused him from 
deepest thought. "They are not dif- 
ficult to comprehend, sir. There are 
numerous growths that are primarily 
carnivorous. We have the fintal vine 
on Zenia, which coils instantly when 
touched, and thus traps many small an- 
imals which it wraps about with its 
folds and digests through sucker-like 
growths. 

"On your own Earth there are, we 
learn, hundreds of varieties of insecti- 
vorous plants: the Venus fly-trap, 
known otherwise as the Dionaea Mus- 
cipula, which has a leaf hinged in the 
median line, with teeth-like bristles. 
The two portions of the leaf snap to- 
gether with considerable force when 
an insect alights, upon the surface, and 
the soft portions of the catch are di- 
gested by, the plant before the leaf 
opens again. The pitcher plant is an- 
other native of Earth, and several va- 
rieties of it are found on Zenia and at 
least two other planets. It traps its 
game without movement,- but is never- 
theless insectivorous. You have an- 
other species on Earth that is, or was, 
very common : the Mimosa Pudica. 
Perhaps you know it as the sensitive 
plant. It does not trap insects, but it 
has a very distinct power of movement, 
and is extremely irritable. 

"It is not at all difficult to under- 
stand a carniverous tree, capable of 
violent and powerful motion. This is 
undoubtedly what we have here — a de- 
cidedly interesting phenomena, but not 
difficult of comprehension." 

It seems like a long explanation, as 
I record it here, but emanated as it 
was, it took but an instant to complete 



it. Mr. Dival went on without a pause: 
"I believe, however, that 3 have dis- 
covered something far more important 
How is your menqre adjusted, sir?" 
"At minimum." 
"Turn it to maximum, sir." 

I GLANCED at him curiously, but 
obeyed. New streams of thought 
poured in upon me. Kincaide ... the 
guard at the exit and something 

else. i 

I blanked out Kincaide and the men, 
feeling Dival's eyes searching my face. 
There was something else, some- 
thing — ; . 

I focused on the dint, vague emana- 
tions that came to me from the circlet 
of my menore, and gradually, like an 
object seen through heavy mist, I per- 
ceived the message: 

"Wait! Wait! We are coming I 
Through the ground. The trees . . , 
disintegrate them . . . all of them . . . 
all you can reach. But not the ground 
. . . not the ground. . . ." 

"Peter I" I shouted, turning to Dival. 
"That's Peter Wilson, second officer of 
the Dorlos!" 

Dival nodded, his dark face alight 
"Let us, see if we can answer him,* 
he suggested, and we concentrated all 
our energy on a single thought: "We 
understand. We understand." 
The answer came back instantly: 
"Good I Thank God I Sweep them 
down, Hanson ; every tree of them. 
Kill them . . . kill them . . . kill them"* 
The emanation fairly shook with hats, 
"We are coming ... to the clearing . . . 
wait — and while you wait, use your 
rays upon ./these accursed hungry 
trees I" 

Grimly and silently, We hurried back 
to the ship, Dival, the' ^ayant, snatch- 
ing up specimens of earth and rock 
here and there as we Went. r9 

THE disintegrator rays of the^port- 
able projectors were no more thu 
toys compared with the mighty beams 
the Kalid was capable, of projecting, 
with her great generators to supply 



THE TERRIBLE TENTACLES OF L-472 



343 



power. Even with the" beams narrowed 
to the minimum, they cut a swath a 
yard or more in diameter, and their 
range was tremendous ; although work- 
ing rather less rapidly as the distance 
aid power decreased, they were effec- 
tive over a range of many miles. 

Before their blasting beams the for- 
est shriveled and sank into tumbled 
chaos. A haze of brownish dust hung 
low over the scene, and I watched with 
■ sort of awe. It was the first time I 
had ever seen the rays at work on such 
wholesale destruction. 

A startling thing became evident 
•son after we began our work. This 
world that we had thought to be void 
of animal life, proved to be teeming 
with it. From out of the tangle of 
broken and harmless branches, thou- 
afeds of animals appeared. The ma- 
jority of them were quite large, per- 
haps the size of full-grown hogs, which 
Earth animal they seemed to resemble, 
nvt that they were a dirty yellow 
color, and had strong, heavily-clawed 
feet These were the largest of the 
taimals, but there were myriads of 
■nailer ones, all of them pale or neu- 
tral in color, and apparently unused to 
nich strong light, for they ran blindly, 
wildly seeking shelter from the uni- 
versal confusion. 

STILL the destructive beams kept 
about their work, until the scene 
changed utterly. Instead of resting in 
• clearing, the Kalid was in the midst 
of a tangle of fallen, wilting branches 
that stretched like a gTeat, still sea, as 
far js the eye could see. 

"Cease action I" I ordered suddenly. 
I had seen, or thought I had Beef, a 
hmoan figure moving in the tangle, not 
far from the edge of the clearing. Cor- 
ny relayed the order, and instantly the 
nys were cut off. My menore, free 
from the interference of the great 
Hemic generators of the Kalid, ema- 
nated the moment {he generators 
ceased functioning. 

"Enough, Hanson I Cut the rays; 
•t're coming." 



"We have ceased action; come on I" 

I hurried to the still open exit. 
Kmcaide and his guards were staring 
at what had been the forest ; they were 
so intent that they did not notice I had 
joined them — and no wonder 1 j 

A file of men were scrambling over 
the debris ; gaunt men with dishevelled 
hair, practically naked, covered with 
dirt and the greasy brown dust of the 
disintegrator ray. In the lead, hardly 
recognizable, his menore awry upon 
his tangled locks, was Peter Wilson. 

"Wilson !" I shouted ; and in a sin- 
gle great leap I was at his side, shak- 
ing his hand, one arm about his 
scarred shoulders, laughing and talk- 
ing excitedly, all in the same breath. 
"Wilson, tell me — in God's name — 
what has happened?" 

HE looked up at me with shining, 
happy eyes, deep in black sock- 
ets of hunger and suffering. 

"The part that counts," he said 
hoarsely, "is" that you're here, and 
we're here with you. My men need rest 
and food — not too much food, at first, 
for we're starving. I'll give you the 
story — or & much of it as I know — 
while we eat." 

I sent my orders ahead; for every 
man of that pitiful crew of survivors, 
there were two eager men 01 the 
Kali(Ts crew to minister to him. In 
the little dining salon of the officers' 
mess, Wilson gave us the story, while 
he ate slowly and carefully, keeping 
his ravenous hunger in check. 

"It's a weird sort of story," he said. 
"I'll cut it as short as I can. I'm too 
weary for details. 

"The Dorlos, as I suppose you know, 
was ordered to L-472 to determine the 
fate of the Filanus, which had been 
sent here tp determine the feasibility 
of establishing a supply base here for 
a new interplanetary ship line. 

"It took us nearly three days. Earth 
time, to locate this clearing and >the 
Filanus, and we grounded the Dorlos 
immediately. Our commander — you 
probably remember him, Hanson: 



344 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



David McClellan? Big, red-faced 
chapr 

I nodded, and Wilson continued. 

"Commander McClellan was a 
choleric person, as courageous a man 
as ever wore the blue and silver of the 
Service, and very thoughtful of his 
men. We had had a bad trip; two 
swarms of meteorites that had worn 
our nerves thin, and a faulty part in 
the air-purifying apparatus had nearly 
done us in. While ;he exit was being 
unsealed, he gave the interior crew 
permission to go off duty, to get some 
fresh air, with orders, however, to re- 
main close to the ship, under my com- 
mand. Then, with j the usual landing 
crew, he started foy the Filanus. 

"He had forgotten, under the stress 
of the moment, that the force of grav- 
ity would be very small on a body no 
larger than this. The result was that 
as soon as they hurried out of the ship, 
away from the influence of our own 
gravity pads, they hurtled into the air 
in all directions." 

ILSON paused. Several seconds 
passed before he could go on. 
"Well, the trees— I suppose you 
know something about them — reached 
out and swept up three of them. Mc- 
Clellan and the rest of the landing 
crew rushed to their rescue. They were 
caught up. Cod! I can see them . . . 
hear them . . . even now I 

"I couldn't stand there and see that 
happen to them. With the rest of the 
crew behind me, we rushed out, armed 
only with our atomic pistols. We did 
not dare use the rays; there were a 
dozen men caught up everywhere in 
those hellish tentacles. 

"I don't know what I thought we 
could do. I knew only that I must do 
something. Our leaps carried us over 
the tops of the trees that were fighting 
for the . .-. the bodies of McClellan and 
the rest of the landing crew. I saw 
then, when it was too late, that there 
was nothing we could do. The trees 
. . had done their work. They 
they were feeding. ... 



"PerHaps that is why we escaped. 
We came down in a tangle of whipping 
branches. Several of my men were 
snatched up. The rest of us saw how 
helpless our position was . . . that there 
was nothing we could . do. We saw, 
too, that the ground was literally 
honeycombed, and we dived down 
these burrows, out of the reach of the 
trees. 

"There were nineteen of us that es- 
caped. I can't tell you how we lived— 
I would not if I could. The burrows 
had been dug by the pig-like animals 
that the trees live upon,, and they led, 
eventually, to the shore, where there 
was water — horrible, bitter stuff, but 
not salty, and apparently not poison- 
ous, 
f 

WE lived on these pig-Eke ani- 
mals, and we learned some- 
thing of their way of life. The trees 
seem to sleep, or become inactive, at 
night. Not unless they ate touched do 
they lash about with their tentacles. At 
night the animals feed, largely upon 
the large, soft fruit of these trees. Of 
course, large numbers of them make a 
fatal step each night, but ^hey are pro- 
lific, and their ranks do not suffer. 

"Of course, we tried to* get back to 
the clearing, and the DorJos; first by 
tunneling. That was impossible, we 
found, because the rays used by the 
Filanus in clearing a landing place had 
acted somewhat upon tile earth be- 
neath, and it was like powder. Our 
burrows fell in upon us faster than 
we could dig them out. Two of my 
men lost their lives that Way. 

"Then we tried, creeping back by 
night : but we could not see as can the 
other animals here, and we quickly 
found that it was suicide to attempt 
such tactics. Two more of the men 
were* lost in that fashion. That left 
fourteen. 

"We decided then to wait. We knew 
there would be another «hjp along, 
sooner or later. Luckily, one of the 
men had somehow retained his men ore. 
We treasured that a* we treasured our 



W 



THE TERRIBLE TENTACLES OF L-472 



345 



lives. To-day, when, deep in our run- 
ways beneath the surface, we felt, or 
heard, the crashing of the trees, we 
knew the Service had not forgotten us. 
I put on the menore; I — but I think 
you know the rest, gentlemen. There 
were eleven of us left. We are here — 
all that is left of the Dorlo's crew. We 
found no trace of any survivor of the 
filaaas;, unaware of the possibility of 
danger, they were undoubtedly all the 
victims of . . . the trees." 

Wilson's head dropped forward on 
his chest. He straightened up with a 
dart and an apologetic smile. 

"I believe, Hanson," he said slowly, 
"I'd better get ... a little . . . rest," and 
he slumped forward on the table in the 
death-like sleep of utter exhaustion. 

THERE the interesting part of the 
story ends. The rest is history, 
and there is too much dry history in 
the Universe already. 

Dival wrote three great volumes on 
L-472— or Ibit, as it is called now. One 
of them tells in detail how the pres- 
ence of constantly increasing quanti- 
ties of volcanic ash robbed the soil of 
that little world of its vitality, so that 
all forms of vegetation except the one 
became extinct, and how, through a 
process of development and evdlution, 
those trees became camiverous. 

The second volume is a learned dis- 
cussion of the tree itself ; it seems that 
I few specimens were spared for study, 
isolated on a peninsula of one of the 
continents, ' and turned over to Dival 
for observation and dissection. All I 
can say for the book is that it is prob- 
ably accurate. Certainly it is neither 
interesting nor comprehensible. 
And then; of course, there is his 



treatise on ocrite : how he happened to 
find the ore, the probable amount 
available on L-472 — or Ibit, if you pre- 
fer — and an explanation of his new 
method of refining it. I saw him fran- 
tically gathering specimens while we 
were getting ready to leave, but it was- 
n't until after we had departed that he 
mentioned what he had found. 

I HAVE a set of these volumes 
somewhere ; Dival autographed 
them and presented me with them. 
They established his position, I un- 
derstand, in his world of science, and 
of course, the discovery of this new 
source of ocrite was a tremendous find 
for the whole Universe ; interplanetary 
transportation wouldn't be where it is 
to-day if it were not for this inexhaust- 
ible source of power. 

Yes, Dival became famous — and very 
rich. 

I received the handshakes and the 
gratitude of ^he eleven men we res- 
cued, and exactly nine words of com- 
mendation from the Chief of my 
squadron: "you are a credit to the 
Service, Commander Hanson!" 

Perhaps, to some who read this, it 
will seem that Dival fared better than 
I. But to men who have known the 
comradeship of the outer space, the 
heart-felt gratitude of eleven friends is 
a precious thing. And to any man who 
has ever worn the blue and silver uni- 
form of the Special Patrol Service, 
those nine words from the Chief of 
Squadron will sound strong. 

Chiefs of Squadrons in the Special 
Patrol Service — at least in those days 
— were scanty with praise. It may be 
different in these days of soft living 
and political pull. 



Marooned Under the Sea 



By Pool Ernst 



Y 

♦ ♦ ♦ i 



'ACHT, Rosa, was due 
to leave the San Fran- 
cisco harbor in two 
hours. 

We were going on some mysterious 
cruise to the 
South Seas, the 
details of which 
I did not know. 

"Professor 



Three 



George Berry, the famous zoologist, 
and myself are going to do some ei- 
ploring that is hazardous in the ei- 
trcme," Stanley had said. "For purer/ 
mechanical reasons we need a third 
You are young 
and have no fam- 
ily ties, so I 
thought I'd ask 
you to go with as. 



Den stick out m rtnmia and des- 
adVesttarw unf tile incredible 
monsters of that dark sea floor. 



(Editor*' Note: This doc'ii 
Mi reported to hsrr been 
• " i to be ' 



ed octt of the sea nesr the Fiji Islands. 



curious kmtl ol pardimmi and tied to s piece of JlUt sssss 
The Brat and last pages were so tssssT 



"Look at tht ca'lc!" catlrd Stinlry. 



I'd rather not tell you what it's all 
ibout until we are on our way." 
.That was all the explanation he had 
liven. It was sufficient. I was fed up 
with life just then : I had enough 
■oney to avoid work and was tired of 
Paying. 

"I mast warn you that you'll risk 
four life in this," he had continued, in 
Mntr to my acceptance of his invita- 
tion. 

Aad I had replied that the hazard. 



whatever it might be, only made the 
trip appear more desirable. 

So here I was, on board the yacht, 
about to sail for far places on some sci- 
entific mission which had so far been 
kept veiled in secrecy and which was 
represented as "hazardous in the ex- 
treme." It sonnded attractive I 

STANLEY came aboard accompan- 
ied by a lean, wiry man with iron 
gray hair and cool, alert black eyes. 



348 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



"Hello, Martin," Stanley greeted me. 
"I want you to meet Professor Berry, 
the real leader of this expedition. Pro- 
fessor, this young red-head is Martin 
Grey, a sort of nephew by adoption 
who knows more about night life than 
most cabaret proprietors — and not 
much of anything else. He has shaken 
the dangers of the gold-diggers to face 
with us the dangers of the tropic seas." 

The professor gripped my hand, and 
his cool black eyes gazed into mine 
with a kind of friendly frostiness. 

"Don't pay any attention to him," he 
advised me. "Twenty years ago, when 
I first met him, he was on his way to 
Africa to shoot elephants because some 
revue beauty had just thrown him over 
and he felt he ought to do something 
big and heroic about it. It was shortly 
afterward that he decided to stay a 
bachelor all his life, and became such a 
confirmed woman hater." 

He smiled thinly at Stastlejfr prod 
in the ribs, and the two went Dehnr, 
talking and laughing with the intimacy 
of old friendship. 

I stayed on deck and soon found 
myself watching, with no little won- 
der, an enormous truck and trailer 
arrangement that drew up on the dock 
heavily loaded with a single immense 
crate. It was for us. I speculated as 
to what it could possibly contain. 

It was a twenty or twenty-five-foot 
cube solidly braced with strap-iron 
and steel brackets. It evidently con- 
tained something fragile. The yacht's 
donkey engine lowered a hook for it, 
and swung it over the side and into the 
hold as daintily as though it had been 
packed with explosives. 

The last of the ship's stores followed 
it over the side; the group of news- 
paper reporters who had been trying to 
pump the captain and first mate for a 
story were warned to leave, and we 
were ready to go. Precisely where and 
for what purpose ? 

I was to find out almost immediately. 

Even as the yacht nosed supercili- 
ously away from the dock, the steward- 
approached me with the information 



that lunch was ready. I went to fht 
small, compactly furnished dining 
salon, where I was joined by Stanley 
and the professor. 

THERE were only the three of as 
at the table: Stanley Browne, 
noted big game hunter andj semi-retired 
owner of the great Browne Glassworks 
at Altoona, a man fifteen years my 
senior but tanned and fit looking; Pro- 
fessor Berry, well known: in scientific 
circles; and myself, known in no 
branch of activity save the one Stanley 
had jested about — the night life of my 
home city, Chicago. 

"It's time you knew just what you're 
up against," said Stanley to me after 
the consomme had been served. "Now 
that we've actually sailed) there's no 
longer any need for secrecy. Indeed 
there never has been urgent need of it: 
the Professor and myself merely 
thought we might provoke incredulity 
and comment if we stated! the purpose 
of our trip publicly." 
He buttered a roll. 
"We—the Professor and you and I— 
are going in for some deep sea diving. 
And when I say deep, Ij mean deep. 
We are going to investigate condition 
as they exist one mile down from the 
surface of the ocean." 
"A mrte !" I exclaimed. l"Why— " 
There I stopped. I had only a lay- 
man's knowledge of such matters. But 
I knew that the limit of man's submer- 
sion, till then at any rate, "was a matter 
of a few hundred feet. 

"Sounds incredible, doesn't it," said 
Stanley with a smile. "But that's what 
we're going to do — if the Professor's 
gadget works as he seems to think it 
will." 

"I don't think it, I know it," retorted 
the Professor. "And man, man, the 
things we may see down there I New 
and unknown species — a world no hu- 
man has ever seen before — perhaps the 
secret of all df life—" 

"Dragons, sea-serpents and whtt 
not I" Stanley gnashed with a grin. 

"Or, possibly— nothing tit all" The 



MAROONED UNDER THE SEA 



349 



Professor shrugged. "I mustn't let my 
scientific curiosity run away with me. 
Perhaps we'll find no new thing down 
down. Our deep sea dredging and clas- 
sification may already embrace most of 
the forms of life in the greater depths." 

"If it does I want my money back," 
■aid Stanley. "When you asked me to 
finance this expedition for you, I 
agreed on condition that you would 
■how me a thrill — some real big game, 
even if I would not be able to shoot 
it If we draw blank — " 

«*fT\ HE mere descent should satisfy 
X. you, my adventuring friend," re- 
plied the Professor brusquely. "I think 
you'll find that thrilling enough." 

"But — a mile under the surface I" I 
marveled, feeling not entirely comfort- 
able. "The pressure I Enormous I It 
can't be done I That is, I mean, can it 
be done?" 

"It had better be," said Stanley with 
t humor that I did not entirely appre- 
ciate. "If it isn't, the three of us are 
going to be pressed out like three 
sheets of tissue paper I For we are as- 
suredly going down that far in the 
Professor's gadget." 

"Was that the thing I saw hoisted 
■board just before we left?" 

"That was it. We'll stroll around 
after lunch and look it over." 

If I had taken this cruise in search 
of distraction — I was surely going to 
be successful! That was plaint 

"Just where are we going?" I asked. 
"You said something about the South 
Seas, but you've named no special part 
of them." 

"We're bound for Penguin Deep. 
That's a delightful little dimple in the 
Kermadec Trough, which," Stanley ex- 
plained, "is north northeast of New 
Zealand almost halfway up to the Fiji 
Islands. Penguin Deep is ticketed at 
five thousand one hundred and fifty 
feet, but it probably runs deeper in 
spots." 

The rest of the meal was consumed 
m silence. I hardly tasted what I ate ; 
I remember that. Over five thousand 



feet down — where no man had ever ven- 
tured before I Could we make it ? 

I tried to recall my neglected physics 
lessons and compute the pressure that 
far down. I couldn't. But I knew i£ 
must be an appalling total of tons to 
the square inch. What possible ar- 
rangement could they have brought in 
which to make that awful descent? 

And, if the descent were accom- 
plished, what in the world would we 
see when we got down there? Gigan- 
tic, hitherto unknown fishes? Marine 
growths, half animal and half vege- 
table? 

Decidedly, hot rolls and salad, cut- 
lets andjpaked potatoes, good as they 
were, could not distract attention from 
the crowding questions that assailed 
me. And I could see that Stanley and 
the Professor were also far away in 
their thoughts — probably already ex- 
ploring Penguin Deep. 

i 

AlFTER lunch we went forward to 
JlX look at the Professor's gadget, as 
Stanley insisted on calling it. 

It had been carefully unpacked by 
the crew while we ate, and it shim- 
mered in the electric lighted hold like 
a great bubble. 

.It was a giant glass sphere, polished 
and flawless. Inside it could be made 
out various objects — a circular bench 
arrangement on a wooden flooring, bat- 
teries that filled the cup between the 
floor and the bottom arc of the sphere, 
tall metal cylinders, a small search- 
light set next Yo a mechanism that was 
indeterminate. At three equidistant 
points on the sides there' were glass 
handles, as thick as a man's thigh, cast 
integral with the walls. On the top 
there was a smaller handle. 

At first glance the sphere seemed all 
in one piece, with the central objects 
cast inside like a toy ship in a sealed 
bottle. Then a mathematically precise 
ring of prismatic reflections showed 
me that the top third of the ball was 
a separate piece, fitting conically down 
like the tapered glass stopper of a 
monstrous perfume bottle. The handle 



350 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



on the top was for the purpose of lift- 
ing this giant's teapot lid, and allow- 
ing entrance into the sphere. 

"Isn't it a beauty?" murmured Stan- 
ley. "It ought to be," he added. "It 
cost me eighty-six thousand to make 
it in my own glass factory. Eleven 
castings before this cine came along 
that was reasonably free of flaws. 
Twenty-two feet six inches over all, 
walls five feet thick, new formula un- 
breakable glass, four men working a 
month to grind the\lid into place, tol- 
erance limits plus ortninus zero." 

He slapped the Professor's shoulders. 
"Let's go in and look over the appa- 
ratus." 
•»» 

TO accommodate the huge ball a 
well had been constructed in the 
Rosa's hold. This brought the deck 
we were standing on up to within six 
feet ot^he toj> ring, above which was 
rigged a chain hoist for lifting the pon- 
derous lid. 

The hoist was revolved, the conical 
top was swung free, and we clambered 
into our unique diving shell. 

The tall cylinders were revealed as 
great flasks of compressed air. The 
indeterminate thing beside the search- 
light turned out to be a hand pump, 
geared to work against hBavy pressure. 
From the suction chamber of this three 
tubes extended. 

"We inhale the air of the chamber," 
the Professor explained to me, "and 
exhale through the tubes into the pump 
cylinder. Breathe in through the nose 
and out through the mouth. The pump 
piston is forced down by this geajjd 
handle, sending the used air out of the 
shell through this sixteenth-inch bote. 
A ball check valve keeps the water 
from squirting in when the exhaust 
pressure is released." 

He pointed to a telegraphic key 
whidHtjompleted a circuit from the bat- 
teries in the bottom o.f the ball to a 
thread of copper cast through the lid. 

"That's your plaything, Martin. You 
are to raise or lower us by pressing 
that*key. It controls the donkey en- 



gine electrically, so that we guide ear 
own destinies though we are a mis) 
beneath our power plant. Stanley 
works the pump. I direct the search- 
light, write down notes, and, Insincere- 
ly hope, take snapshots of deep set 
life." 

For a moment my part of the Jfcbsr 
seemed so easy as to be unfair. Merely 
to sit there and punch a little key * 
raising and lowering time! But as I 
thought it over it began to appear more 
difficult. 

The Rosa could not anchor, of 
course, in a mile of water. We wools' 
drift helplessly. If we approached an 
undersea cliff I must raise us at oiice 
to prevent us being smashed against it 
And if the cliff were too lofty to be 
cleared in time. . . . 

I mentioned this to the Professor. 

"That would be unfortunate," he 
said, with his ffbsty smile. "Stanley 
assures us this glass is unbreakable. 
He means commercially unbreakable. 
What w.ould happen io it if it wen 
submitted to the strain of being Snag 
against a rock pile — in addition to the 
enormous stress of the water pressure 
— I don't know. It's 'your job to set 
that we don't have£o End out I" 

IT had been planned to tctt the 
sphere empty first to see how it 
stood the strain. < 

We drifted to a full: stop over the 
center of Penguin Deep where we were 
to gamble our lives Jn a game with 
Neptune. Sea anchors were rigged to 
lessen our drift and the donkey engine 
was geared to the first cable drum. 

There was an impressive row of met* 
drums, each holding an intenninibk 
length of three-quartet-inch cable. The 
bulk of a mile of steel cable has to be 
seen to be believed I 

The glass sphere was lifted from the 
hold, delicately for all its enotmssa 
weight, and swung aver the rail pre- 
paratory to being lowered into the 
depths. 

Not until that moment did I notta 
two things: that there was no fat t t nw g 



MAROONED UNDER THE SEA 



351 



of any kind to keep the thick lid in 
place; and that the three-quarter-inch 
table looked like a pack thread in com- 
parison to the ponderous bulk it 
Itnined to support. 

"We couldn't use a heavier cable," 
■id the Professor, "because of the 
main. We're overloading the hoist as 
it is. As for the lid being fastened 
down — I think you'll find it will be 
pressed into place securely enough I" 

There was unanimous silence as the 
great globe slipped into the sea — down 
and down until the last reflection of 
the morning sun ceased to shimmer 
from its surface. Drum after drum 
was played out, till the first mate held 
til hand up to check the engineer. 

"Five thousand feet, sir," he called 
toStanley. 

jpiaul it back up. And let us hope," 
Stanley added fervently, "that we'll 
find the gadget in one piece." 

THE engine began to snort rhyth- 
mically. Dripping, vibrating, the 
coils of cable began to crawl back in 
pkce on the drums. There was a glint 
nder the surface again as the sun- 
light reflected on the nearing sphere. 

The great ball flashed otuv of the 
•iter, and a cheer burst from the 
throats of all of us. It was absolutely 
■harmed. Only — there was a beading 
af fine moisture inside the thick-globe. 
What that could mean, none of us 
mid figure out. 

"Difference in temperature?" wor- 
ried the Professor. "No, it's as cold 
bride as out. MoleculeB of water 
•riven by sheer pressure through five 
fcet of glass to unite in drops on the 
bride? Possibly. Well, there's one 
My to find out. Stanley, Martina-are 
|*o ready ?" 

We-nodded, and prepared to visit the 
bttom a mile below the Rosa's keel, 
the preparation consisted merely in 
Mining heavy, fleece-lined jumpers to 
■wtect us from the cold of the sunless 
ttpths. 

Soberly we entered the ball to un- 
fago whatever ordeal awaited us on 



the distant ocean floor. How compara- 
tive distance isl A mile walk in the 
country — it is nothing. A mile ascent 
in an airplane — a trifle. But a mile de- 
scent into pitch black, Done chilling 
depths of wafer — that is an immense 
distance! 

Copper wire, on a separate drum, was 
connected from the engine switch to x 
the copper thread that curled through 
the glass wall to my telegraphic key. 
We* strapped the mouthpieces of the 
breathing tubes over our heads, and 
Browne started the slow turning of the 
compression pump. 

The Professor snapped the search- 
light on and off several times to see 
that it was in working shape. He raised 
his hand, I pressed the key, and the 
long descent began. 

THAT plunge into the bottomless 
depths remains in my memory al- 
most as clearly as the far more fan- 
tastic adventures that came to us later. 

Smoothly, rapidly, the yellow-green 
of the surface water dimmed f.o olive. 
This in turn grew blacker and blacker. 
Then we were slipping down into pitch 
darkness — a big bubble lit by a meagre 
lamp and containing three fragile hu- 
man beings that dared to trust the soft 
pulp of their bodies to the crushing 
weight of the deepest ocean. 

The moat impressive thing was the 
utter soundlessness of our descent. At 
first there had been a pulsing throb of 
the donkey engine transmitted to us 
by the sustaining cable. This died as 
we slid farther from the Rosa. At 
length it was hushed entirely, cush- 
ioned by the springy length of stet^/ 
There was no stir, no sound of any 
kind. As far as our senses could tell 
us, we were hanging motionless in the 
pressing, awesome blackness. 

The Professor switched off our light 
and turned on the searchlight which he 
trained downward through the wall at 
as steep an angle as the flooring would 
permit. Even then the illusion of mo- 
tionlessness was preserved. There was 
nothing in the water to mark our prog- 



352 



ASTOUNDING STORIES < 



ress. We might have been floating in 
a black void of space. _ 

Down and down we went, for an in- 
terminable length of time — till at 
length we reached the abysmal level 
where the sun never ' shone and the 
eyes of man had never gazed till now. 

XI 70RDS were made to describe 
yV familiar articles. I' find now 
When I am faced with the 1 necessity of 
'portraying events and objects beyond 
the range of normal human experience 
that I cannot conjure up words to fit. 
I despair of trying to make you see 
what we saw, and feel what we felt. 

But try to picture yourself in the 
.glass ball with us: 

An is profound blackness save for 
a streak of white, dying about fifty feet 
away, which is the beam of our search- 
light. Twenty feet below is a bare 
floor of flinty lava and broken shell. 
This is unrelieved by sea-weed of any 
kind, appearing like an imagined frag- 
ment of Martian or lunar? landscape. ' 

The ball sways idly to the push of 
some explicable submarine current. It 
is like being in a captive balloon, ex- 
cept that the connecting cable extends 
stiffly upward instead of downward. 

There is a realization, an instinctive 
{eel of awful pressure around you. 
Logic tells you how you are clamped 
about, but deeper than logic is the in- 
tuition that the glass walls are press- 
ing in on themselves — at the point of 
collapse. You ears tingle with the feel 
of it; your head rings with it. 

Tou are breathing in through youf 
nose — thin, unsatisfying gulps of air 
that cause yonr lungs to labor^at their 
task; and you are exhaling through 
your mouth, with difficulty, into the 
barrel of the powerful pump. No bub- 
bles arise from the tiny hole where the 
used air is forced into the water. The 
pressure is too enormous for that. 
Only a thin, milky line marks its es- 
cape from the sphere. 

In a ghostly way you see Stanley 
turning the pump handle. With a 
handful of waste which he has bor- 



rowed from the Rosa's engine room, the 
Professor wipes from ■ the section of 
wall through which the searchlight 
plays the moisture that constantly col- 
lects there. I sit With my hand near 
the key, peering downward and ahead 
like an engineer in a locomotive cab, 
ready to raise the shell or lower it as 
occasion warrants. 

And always the; suffocating aware- 
ness of pressure. 

STRANGE and mystic journey u 
the tortured glass* sphere floated 
over the bottom, following the slow 
drift of the Rosa far above I 

The finger of light played along the 
tilted side/ of a wrecked tramp 
< steamer. ,/Fhere was a! crumpled gash 
in the bow. From this ragged hole 
suddenly appeared a great, serpentine 
form. ... * , j 

The Professor clutched at his cam- 
era, pointed it, and clenched his hands 
in a frenzy of disappointment. The 
serpent shape had disappeared back 
into the hull. A littje later and we 
had drifted slowly past the wreck. 

"Damn it I" the Prqfessor snatched! 
away his mouthpiece fo exclaim. "If 
we could only stop." I 

The bottom changedicharacter short- 
ly after we had passed the hulk. We' 
began to creep over low, gently round- 
ed mounds. 

These were so regular in form that 
they were puzzling. About fifty feet 
across and ten in altitude, they looked 
artificial in theitLsyanrtetry — like great 
saucers Bet on the oc^an floor bottom 
side up. They took on a dirty black 
hue as our light struck them, and 
glowed with a faint phosphorescence as 
they stretched awby into the darkness. 

A twelve-foot monstrosity, all toad- 
like head and eyes, swam into the light 
beam and bumped blindly against the 
glass ball. For an instant jt goggled 
crazily at us. The Professor took its 
picture. It blundered, away. As it 
reached the darkness beyond the beam 
it, too, showed phosphorescent. A belt 
of b^ue- white spots life the porthole* 



MAROONEQXTNDER the sea 



353 



of a liner extended down its ugly sides. 

Along tne bottom, between the curi- 
ous mounds, writhed a wormlike thing. 
But it was too huge to be described as 
truly wormlike — it was eighteen or 
twenty feet long and a foot thick. It 
was blood red, almost blunt ended and 
patently without eyes. 

I took my gaze off it for an instant. 
When I looked again it bad disap- 
peared. I blinked at this seeming mir- 
acle and then discovered a foot or so 
of its tail protruding from under the, 
edge of one of the mounds. It^was 
threshing furiously about. 

IT was at this instant that I suddenly 
found increased difficulty, and 
glanced at Stanley. , \ 

He had stopped pumping and was 
clutching at the Professor's arm with 
one hand while he pointed down with 
the other. The Professor motioned him 
toward tha-punlp, and began to click 
pictures furiously with the camera 
pointed at the nearest mound. 

Wondering at the urgency of Stan- 
ley's gesture and the frantic clicking of 
the camera shutter* I looked more 
closely at the curious, saucerlike hump. 

Under closer inspection something 
remarkably like a huge, mud-colored 
eye was revealed! And as we drifted 
along, twenty feet away on the farther 
■lope, another appeared I 

Paralyzed, I stared at the edges of 
the thing'. They were waving almost 
imperceptibly up and down, creeping! 

The mounds were living creatures! 
Acres and acres of them lying lethargi- 
cally on the bottom waiting for some- 
thing t<j crawl within range of their 
monstrous edges! 

Involuntarily I pressed the key to 
raise us. But we had gone only a few 
feet when the Professor called to me. 

"Down again, Martin. I don't thihk 
these things will bother us unless we 
•crape against them. Anyway they 
can't hurt the shell." 

I lowered the ball to our former 
twenty-foot level, and there we swung 
just over the monsters' backs. 



THE Professor had said that the 
giant inverted saucers would prob- 
ably not bother us if we did not come 
in contact wilh them. It soon became 
apparent that, in a measure, he was 
right. The creatures either could not 
or would not lift their enormous bulks 
from the sea floor. 

A gigantic wriggling thing, all gro- 
tesque fringe and tentacles, drifted 
down into the range of our light. 
Lower it floated until it hoveVrd just 
.above one of the larger moundsr^The 
Professor got its portrait. At the same 
instant, a si though it had heard the 
click of -trie shutter and been fright- 
ened by it, the thing dropped another 
foot — and touched the sloping back. 

With the speed of light the inverted 
saucer became a cup. Like a clenching 
Est, the cup closed,, over one of the 
straggling tentacles. 

There followed a tug of war that 
was all the more ghastly fir its Bound- 
lessness. The hunted jerked spasmodi- 
cally to get away from the hunter. So 
wild were its efforts that several times 
it raised the monster clear of the bot- 
tom for a foot or so. But the grim 
clutch could not be broken. 

Closer and closer it was dragged. 
Then, after a supreme paroxysm, the 
tentacle parted and the prey escaped. 
The tentacle disappeared into the mass 
of the baffled hunter. It made no at- 
tempt to follow the fleeing creature. 
It slowly relaxed along the bottom and 
waited.' for its next meal. 

The unearthly incident gave us fresh 
confidence, convincing us that the mon- 
sters did not move unless they were 
directly touched. Of course we could 
not foresee the fatal accident that was 
going tocput us within reach of one of 
the^giant saucers. 

E thought for awhile that these 
great blobs of cold life were the 
largest creatures of the depths. "It was 
soon made clear to us how mistaken 
that notion was! , 

For a time we gazed spellbound at 
the nightmare assortment of grotes- 



w 



254 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



queries that gradually assembled 
aroundns, attracted no doubt by our 
light. The things were mainly sight- 
less and of indescribable shape. Most 
of them were phosphorescent, and they 
avoided collisions in a way that sug- 
gested that they had some buried sense 
of light perception. 

As time passed the Professor emp- 
tied his camera, refilled it several times 
and groaned that he had no more film. 
Twice as we drifted along I raised us 
to keep us clear of a gradual upward 
slope of the smooth floor. 

Stanley removed his mouthpiece long 
enough to suggest that we go bank to 
the surface: we had been submerged 
for nearly four hours now. But be- 
fore we could reply a violent move- 
ment was felt. 

The ball .rocked and twirled so that 
we were forced to cKng to the circuk 
-bench to avoid being thrown to the 
floor. It was as though a hurricane of 
wind had suddenly penetrated the un- 
ruffled depths. 

"Earthquake?" called Stanley. 

"Don't know," answered the Profes- 
sor. He swung the searchlight in an 
arc and focussed it at length on some- 
thing that appeared only as a field of 
blurred movement. He wiped the mois- 
ture from the wall before the lens, and 
there was revealed to us a sight that 
makes my heart pound even now when 
I recall it to memory. 

Something vast and serpentine had 
ventured too near the bottom — and 
had been caught by the death traps 
there I ' ' 

The creature was a writhing mass of 
gigantic coils. It was impossible even 
to guess at its length, but its girth was 
such that the mound-shaped monsters 
-that had fastened to it could not en- 
tirely encircle it. 

There it twined and knotted, a mighty 
serpent of the deepest ocean, snapping 
its awful length and threshing its pow- 
erful tail in an effort to dislodge the 
giant Jeeches that were flattened 
against it. And every time it touched 
the bottom in its blind frenzy, more 



I 



of the teeming deathtraps attached 
themselves to it, crawling over their 
fellows in an effort to mid unoccupied 
areas. 

SOON the sea-sernent was a distort- 
ed, creeping mass/^For one ap- 
palling instant its head" came into our 
view. . ■ 

It resembled the head jof a crocodile, 
only it was ten 'times larger and cov- 
ered with scale like the pnnor plate of 
a destroyer. The jaws,. Wide open and 
slashing with enormous, 'needle-shaped 
teeth at the huge parasites, were Urge 
enough to have held our glass sphere. 
One eye appeared. It j was at least 
three feet across and of ;a shimmering 
amethyst color. 

One of the deadly saucers wrapped 
itself around the great head. The en- 
tire mass of attackers any. attacked set- 
tled slowly to the bottom. 

But before it completely succumbed 
the beaten monster gave; one last, con- 
vulsive flick of its tail, j . . 
v 'Good God I" cried' Stanley, shrink- 
ing away from the punjp and staring 
upward, 

I followed his gaze With my own 
eyes. J 

In the faint reflected: glow of the 
searchlight I could see row on row of 
large cups flattened agairlst the top of 
the ball. As I watched jhese flattened 
still more and the big sphere quivered 
perceptibly. 

In its death struggle the mighty ser- 
pent had flicked one [of the huge 
leeches against us. It now clung there, 
with blind tenacity, cqvering nearly 
two-thirds of our shell' with the un- 
derside of its body. 

I reaohed for the control key to send 
us to the. surface. j 

"Don't I" snapped the Professor. 
"The weight—" 

He needed to say no more. My hand 
recoiled as though the ;key had been 
red hot. 

The three-quarter-inch cable above 
us was now sustaining, in addition to 
ha own huge weight, oufi massive glas* 



MAROONED UNDER THE SEA 



355 



ball and the appalling tonnage of this 
grim blanket of flesh that encircled us. 
Could it further hold against the strain 
of lifting ^ihat combined tonnage 
through the press of the water? Al- 
most certainly it could not I 

There was nothing we could do but 
bang there and discover at first hand 
exactly what happened to things that 
were clamped in those mighty, living 
vises I 

THE Professor turned on the inte- 
rior bulb. The result was ghastly. 
It showed every detail of the belly of 
the thing that gripped us. 

Crowaed over its entire under sur- 
face were gristly, flattened suckers. 
Now and then a convulsive ripple ran 
through its surface tissue and great 
ridges of flesh stopo* out. With each 
squeeze the glass shell quivered omi- 
nously as though the extreme limit of 
hs pressure resisting power were be- 
ing reached — and passed. 

"A nice fix," remarked the Professor, 
his calm, dry voice acting like a tonic 
in that moment of fear. "If we try to 
go up, the cable would probably break. 
If we try to outlast the patience of 
this thing we might run out of air, or 
actually be staved in." 
He paused thoughtfully. 
"I suggest, though, that we follow 
the latter course for awhile at least. 
It would be just too bad if that cable 
broke, gentlemen I" 

Stanley shuddered, and looked at the 
dirty white belly that pressed against 
the glass walls on all sides. 
"I vote we stay here for a time." 
'And I," was my addition. 
I relieved Stanley at the pump. He 
and the Professor sat down on the 
bench. Casting frequent glances at the 
constricted blanket of flesh that cov- 
ered us, we prepared to wait as com- 
posedly as we might for the thing to 
give up its effort to smash our shell. 

THE* hour that followed was longer 
than any full day I have ever lived 
ferough. Had I not confirmed the pas, 



sage of time by looking at my watch, 
I would have sworn that at least 
twenty hours had passed. 

Every half minute I gazed at that 
weaving pattern of cup-shaped suckers 
only five feet away, trying to see if 
they were relaxing in their pressure. 
I attempted to persuade myself that 
they were. But I knew I was only im- 
agining it. Actually they were pressed 
as flat as ever, and the sphere still quiv- 
ered at regular intervals as the heavy 
body squeezed in oat itself. There was 
no sign that its blind, mindless patience 
was becoming exhausted. 

There was little conversation during 
that interminable hour 

Stanley grinned wryly once and com- 
mented on the creature's disappoint- 
ment if it actually succeeded in getting 
at us. 

"We'd be scattered all over the sur- 
rounding half 1 mile by the pressure of 
the water," he said. "There'd be noth- 
ing left for our, pet to feed on but five- 
foot chunks of broken glass. Not a 
very satisfying meal." 

"We might try to reason with the 
thing — point' out how foolish it is to 
waste its time on us," I suggested, 
trying to appear as nonchalant as he 
was. 

The Professor said nothing. He was 
coolly writing in his notebook, describ- 
ing minutely the appearance of our 
abysmal captor. 

Finally I chanced to look down 
through a section of wall not covered 
by our stubborn enemy. I wiped the 
moisture from the glass before the 
searchlight so that I could see more 
clearly. 

THE bottom seemed to be heaving 
up and down. I blinked my eyes 
and looked again. It. was not an illu- 
sion. With a regular dip and rise we 
were approaching to within a few feet 
of the rocky floor and moving back up 
again. Also we were floating faster 
than at any time previous. The bot- 
tom was bare again; we had left the 
crowding, ominous mounds. 



356 



I waved to the Professor.; He 
snapped his notebook' shut and stared 
at the uneasy ocean bottom. 

"I've been hoping I was wrong," he 
said simply. "I thought I felt a wavy 
motion fifteen minutes ago, and. it 
seemed to me to increase steadily." 

The three of us stared at each other. 

"You mean . . ." began Stanley with 
a shudder. 

"I mean that the Rosa, one mile 
above us, is having difficulties. A 
storm. Judging from our movement 
it must be a hurricane: the length of 
cable would cushion us from any aver- 
age wave, and we are rising and falling 
at least fifteen feet." 

"My God I" groaned Stanley. "The 
Rosa is already heeled with the weight 
of us. She could never weather a hur- 
ricane I" 

The plight of the crew above our 
heads was as clear to us as though we 
had been aboard with them. 

Should they cut the cable, figuring 
that the lives of the three of us were 
certainly not to be set against 'the 
thirty on the yacht? 

Should they disconnect the electric 
control and try to haul us up regard- 
less? 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



we continued on down ; to the ocean 
floor I 

The sfwere rolled over, jumbling the 
equipment in a tangled mess with the 
three of us in the center, bruised and 
cut. The light snapped off as the bat- 
tery connections were torn loose. 

There- we lay at the bottom of Pen- 
guin Deep, in an inert sphere that was 
dead and dark in the surrounding 
blackness — a coffin of- glpss to hold us 
through the centuries. . \ . 



HA! 



"ARTIN," I heard the Profes- 
sor's voice after a time. "Stan- 
ley — can either of you move? I'm 
caught." j 

"I'm caught, too," came Stanley's 
gasping answer. "Something on my 
(leg — feels like it's broken." / 

A heavy object was pressing across 
my body. With an effort I freed my- 
self and fumbled in the pitch dark- 
ness for the other two. 

'^Lights first," commanded the Pro- 
fessor. "The pump, you 1 know." 

I did know I Frantically I scrambled 
in the dark till I located the batteries. 
They were right side up and still wired 
together. 



The air grew rapidly' foul with no 
Or should they try to ride out the_J»ne at the pump. Panting for breath 



storm in spite of being crippled by the 
drag of us? 

"I think if I were up there I'd cut 
us adrift," said Stanley uimly. Both 
the Professor and myself nodded. 
"Though," he added hopefully, "my 
captain is a good gambler. . . ."' 

THE cable quivered like a live 
thing under the terrific strain. At 
each downward swoop, before the up- 
swing began, there was a sickening sag. 

"We no longer have a decision - to 
make," said the Professor. "Press the 
key, Martin, and God grant we can 
rise with all this dead weight." 
N And at that instant the crew of the 
Rpsa were also relieved of the neces- 
sity for making a decision. 

At the bottom of. one of those long, 
sickening falls there was*a jerk — and 



I blundered at the task jof connecting 
the light. After what seemed an 
eternity I accomplished it. 

The light revealed Stanley with an 
air tank lying across his leg. The 
mouthpiece of his breathing tube had 
been forced back over his head, gash- 
ing his face in its journey. His face 
was white with pain. \ - 
The Professor was caught underline 
heavy beach. I freed him and together 
we attended to Stanley,; finding thsV- 
his leg wasn't broken bqt only badly 
bruised. ! 

The mound-shaped fnonster, dis- 
lodged possibly by the fall, was no- 
where to be seen. 

I resumed work at the pump, the con- 
nections of which were so strongly con- 
trived that they had withstood the 
shock of. the upset. < 



MAROONED UNDER THE SEA 



357 



For a moment we were content to 
rest while the air grew purer. Then 
we were forced squarely to face our 
fate. 

THE Professor summed up the 
facts in a few concise words. 
"We're certainly doomed I Here at 
the bottom of Penguin Deep we-'re as 
out of reach of help as though we were 
stranded on the moon. We're as good 
as dead right now." 

"If we have nothing left to hope 
for," whispered Stanley after a time, 
"we might as well close the air valves 
and get it over with at once.. No use 
torturing ourselves. . . ." 
The Professor moistened his lips. 
"It might be wise." He turned to 
me. "What's your opinion, Martin?'? 
Oiut I — I confess I had not the stark 
courage of these two. 

"No" I No I" I cried out. "Let's keep 
on living as long as the air holds out. 
Something might happen — " 

I avoided their eyes as I said it, ut- 
terly ashamed of my Inwardly quib- 
bling with death. What in the name of 
God could possibly happen to help us? 

The Professor shrugged dully, and 
nodded. 

"I feel with Stanley that we ought 
to get it over in one short stab. But 
we have no right to force you?> . . 
His voice trailed off. t f 

We readjusted our mouthpieces, I 
turned automatically at the pump ; and 
we silently awaited the last suffocat- 
ing moment of our final doom. 

AS before) attracted by the light, a 
strange assortment of deep-sea 
/life wriggled and darted about us, 
' swimming lazily among the looped 
coils and twists of our cable which had 
settled down around us. 

Among these were certain fish that 
resembled great porcupines. Spines a 
foot and a half long, like living knife 
blades, protected them from the at- 
tacks of other species. 

They were the only things we saw 
that were not constantly writhing away 



from the jaws of some hostile monster 
— the only things that seemed able to 
swim about their own affairs without 
even deigning to watch for danger. 

Fascinated, I watched the six-foot 
creatures. Here were we, reasoning 
humans, supposed lords of creation, 
slowly but surely perishiAg — while 
only a few feet away one of the lowest 
forms of life could exist in' perfect 
safety and tranquility I 

Then, as I watched them, I seemed 
to see a difference in some of them. 

The majority of them had two fins 
just .behind the gill slits, typical fish 
tails and blunt, sloping heads. But 
now and then I saw a spined monster 
that was queerly unlike its ..fellows. 

Instead of two front Ens, these 
unique ones had two vacant round 
'holes. The head looked as though it 
had forgotten to grow; its place was 
taken by an eyeless, projecting, shield 
shaped cap. And there was no tail. 

Clad to find something to distract my 
half crazed thoughts, I studied the 
nearest of these. 

They moved slower than their tailed 
and finned brothers, I noticed. I won- 
dered how they could move at all, 'lack- 
ing in any kind of motive power as 
they seemed to be. 

Next instant the secret qf their 
movement was made clear I 

OUT of the empty fin holes of the 
creature I was studying crept 
two long, powerful looking tentacles. 
But these were not true tentacles. 
There were no vacum discs on them, 
and they moved as though supported 
by jointed bones — like arms, s ' 

The arms ended in flat paddles that 
resembled hands. These threshed the 
wates-in a sort of breast-stroke, pro- 
pelling the body forward. 

Shortly after the arms had appeared, 
the spiny head cap was cautiously ex- 
tended a few inches forward from the 
main shell. Further it was extended 
as the head of a turtle might slowly 
appear from the protection of its bony 
case. And under it — 



358 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



"Professor !" I screamed wildly. "My 
God! Look!- N y 

Both the Professor' and Stanley 
merely stared dully at {me. I babbled 
of what I had seen. v 

"A man! A human looking thing, 
anyway! Arms and a head! A man 
inside a fish's spined hide — like ar- 
mor 1" 

They looked pityingly at me. The 
Professor laid his hand on my shoul- 
der. 

"Now, now," he soothed, "don't go to 
piece* — " 

"I tell you X saw it!" I shouted. 
Then, shrinking from the hysterical 
loudness of my own voice, I lowered 
my tone. "Something that looks hu- 
man has occupied some of those 
prickly, six-foot Bhells. I saw arms — 
and a mail's head I I swear it !" 

"Nonsense! How could a human 
being stand the cold, the pressure — " 

Here I happened to glance at the 

wall of the shell through which the 

searchlight shone. 

"Look! See for yourself P'- 
i 

SQUARELY in the rays of the light 
Ntykwed a head, projecting from 
on* of the shells and capped with a 
wide flat helmet of horned bone. 

There were eyes and nose and mouth 
placed on one side of that head — a 
face! There were even tabs of flesh 
or bony protuberances that resembled 
•ears. 

"Curious," muttered the Professor, 
staring. "It certainly looks human 
enough to talk. But it's only a fish, 
nevertheless. See — in the throat are 
gill slits." 

"But the eyes! Look at them I 
They're not the eyes of a fish!" 

And they were not. There was in 
them a light of reason, of 'intelligence. 
Those eyes were roaming brightly 
over us, observing the light, the equip- 
ment, seeming to note our amazement 
as we crowded to look at it. 

The sphere racked slightly. Behind 
the staring, manlike visitor there was 
a, glimpse of enormous, crocodile jaws 



and huge, amethyst eiyes. Instantly 
the head and- arms receded, leaving an 
empty-seeming, lifeless shell. An im- 
pregnable fortress of spines, the thing 
drifted slowly away ^ through the 
twisted loops of cable. • 

"It certainly looked like — " began 
Stanley shakily. ' 

"The creature was just a fish," said 
the Professor shaking his head at the 
light in Stanley's eyes. "Some. sort of 
giant parasite that inhabits the shells 
of ^other fish." 

He opened the valve; of the last air 
cylinder and seated himself resignedly 
on the be rich. 

"We have another ! half hour or 
scW 

All of us suddenly put out our handi 
to brace ourselves. The sphere had 
moved. 

"Look at the cable!" called Stanley. 

We did so. It was moving, writhing 
away from us over the. bottom ai 
though abruptly given .lift of its own. 
Coil after coil disappeared into the 
further gloom. 

At length the cable was straight 
The ball moved again— j-was dragged a 
few feet along the roc fey floor. 

Something — possessed of incredibly 
vast power — had seized the end of the 
steel cable and was reeling us in as ■ 
fisherman r*eels in a trout! 

SLOWLY, unsteadily, we slid along 
tbje ocean floor. Ahead of us ap- 
peared V jagged black wall — a cliff. 
There was a gloomy h;ole at its base. 
Toward this we were being dragged by 
whatever it was that had caught the 
end of the cable. 

Helpless, we watched ourselves en- 
gulfed by the murky deft. In the beam 
of the searchlight we saw that the sub- 
marine cavern extended on and on for 
an unguessable depth. The cable, taut 
with the strain, stretched ahead out of 
sight. I 

Time had been lost track of during 
that mysterious, ominous journey. It 
was recalled to us by ; tbe^state of the 
air we were "breathing. 



MAROONED UNDER THE SEA 



359 



The Professor removed his mouth- 
piece and cast the tube aside. 

"You might as well stop pumping, 
Martin," he said quietly. "We're done. 
There's no more air in the flask." 

We stared at each other. Then we 
■hook hands, solemnly, . tremulously, 
taking leave of each other before we 
departed on that longest of all jour- 
neys. . . . 

The air in that small space was rap- 
idly exhausted. We lay on the floor, 
laboring for breath, and closed our 
eyes. . . . 

The Professor, the oldest of the 
three of us, succumbed first. I heard/ 
bis breath whistle stertorously .and, 
glancing at him, saw that he was in a 
coma. In a moment Stanley had 
joined him in blessed unconsciousness. 

I could feel myself drifting off. . . . 
Hammers beat at my ears. . . Dag- 
gers, pierced my heaving lungs. . . . 

Hazily I could see scores of the 
bristly, manlike fish when I opened my 
eyes and glanced through the walls. 
It was not one monster then, but many 
that had brought us to their lair. Ab- 
ruptly, as though a signal had been 
given, they all streamed back toward 
the mouth of the cavern. . . . 

My eyesight dimmed. . . . The ham- 
mers pulsed louder. . . A veil de- 
scended over my senses and I knew no 
more. ... 

A SOFT, sustained ,roar came to 
my ears. Through my closed 
eyelids J could sense light. A dank, 
fishy smell came to my nostrils. 

I groaned and moved feebly, finding 
that I was resting on 'something soft 
and pleasant. 

Dazedly I opened my eyes and, sat 
up. An exclamation burst from me as 
I suddenly remembered what had gone 
before, and realized that somehow, in- 
credihly, I was still living. 

Feeling like a man who has waked 
from a nightmarish sleep to find him- 
self in his' tomb, I gazed about. 

I was in a long, lofty rock chamber, 
the uneven floor of which was covered 



with shallow pools of water. The fur- 
ther end was of smooth-grained stone 
that resembled cement. The near end 
was rough like the walls ;*but in it 
l there was a small, symmetrical arch, 
\fiic mouth of a passage leading away 
to some other point in the bowels of 
the earth. 

The place was flooded with clear 
light that had a rosy tinge. From my 
position on the floor I could not see 
what made the light. -It streamed from 
a crevice that extended clear around 
the cave parallel with the floor ancV 
about twelve feet above it. Frois} this 
^groove, along with the light, came the 
soft roaring hiss. 

Beside me was the glass ball, the 
cover off and lying a few feet away 
from the opening in the top. There* 
was no trace of Stanley or the Profes- 
sor. 

I rose from my couch, a thick,, 
mattresslike affair of soft, pliant hide, 
and walked 1 feebly toward the small 
arch in the near end of the cave. 

Even as I approached it I heard foot- 
steps, and voices resounded in some 
slurring, musical language. Half a 
dozen figures suddenly came into view. 

They were men, as human as myself I 
Indeed, as I gazed at them, I felt in- 
clined to think they were even more 
human I 

THEY were magnificen : specimens. 
The smallest could nc\t have been 
less than six feet three, and all of them 
were muscular and finely proportioned. 
Their faces were arresting in their ex- 
pression of calm strength and kindli- 
ness. They looked like gods, arrayed 
in soft, thick, beautifully tanned hides 
in this rosy tinted hole a mile below 
the ocean's top. 

They stared at me for an instant, 
then advanced toward me. My face 
must have reflected alarm, for the tall- 
est of them held up his hand, palm out- 
ward, in a peaceful gesture. 

The leader spoke to me. Of course 
the slurred, melodious syllable meant 
nothing to me. He smiled and indi- 



360 



ASTOUNDING STORIE£ 



cated that I was to follow him. I did 
so, hardly aware of what I was doing, 
my brain reeling in an attempt to grasp 
the situation. 

How marvelous, how utterly incredi- 
ble, to find human beings here! How 
many were there? Where had they 
come from? How had they salvaged 
us from Penguin Deep? I gave it up, 
striding along with my towering 
guards like a man walking in his sleep. 

At length the low passageway ended, 
and I ewalmed aloud at what I saw. 

I was looking down a long avenue 
of buildings, all three stories in 
height. There were large door and 
window apertures, but no doors nor 
window panes. In front of each house 
was a small square with — wonder of 
wonders I — a lawn of whitish yellow 
vegetation that resembled grass. In 
some of the lawns were set artistic 
fountains of carved rock. 

I might have been looking down any 
prosperous earthly subdivision, save 
for the fact that the roofs of the 
houses were the earth itself, which the 
building walls, in addition to function- 
ing as partitions, served to support. 
Also earthly subdivisions aren't usually 
illuminated with rosy light that comes 
softly roaring from jets set in the 
walls. 

E were walking toward a more 
brightly lighted area that 
showed ahead of us. On the way we 
passed intersections where other, simi- 
lar streets branched geometrically 
away to right and left. These were 
smaller than the one we were on, indi- 
cating that ours was Main Street in 
this bizarre submarine city. j 

Faces appeared at door and window 
openings to peer at me as we passed. 
And even in that jumbled moment I 
had time to realize that these folk 
could restrain curiosity better than we 
can atop the earth. There was no hub- 
bub, no running out to tag after the 
queerly dressed foreigner, and shout 
humorous remarks at him. 

We approached the bright spot I had 



noticed from afar. It -was an open 
square, about a city block in area, in 
the center of which was a royal look- 
ing building covered jwith blazing 
fragments of crystal and so brilliantly 
resplendent with light that it seemed 
to glow at the heart of a pink fire. 

I was led .toward this and in through 
a wide doorway. As courteously at 
though I were a visiting king, I was 
conducted up a great staircase, down a 
corridor set with more of the sparkling 
crystals and into a huge, low room. 
There my escort bowed and left me. 

STILL feeling that I could not pos- 
sibly be awake and seeing actual 
things, I glanced around.. 

In a corner was another of the mat- 
tresslike couches made of the thick, 
soft hide that seemed to be the prin- 
cipal fabric of the place.: A few feet 
away was a table set with dishes of 
food in barbaric profusion. None of 
the viands looked familiar but all ap- 
pealed to the appetite. The floor was 
strewn with soft skins, atid comforta- 
ble, carved benches were scattered 
about. 

I walked to the window and looked 
out. Underneath was a plot of the 
cream colored grass through which ran 
a tiny stream. This widened at inter- 
vals into clear pools beside which were 
set stone benches. A hundred yards 
away was the edge of the square, where 
the regular, three storied Houses began. 

While I was staring at t$is unearthly 
vista, still unable to think with any 
coherence, I heard my nalne called. I 
turned to face Stanley and the Profes- 
sor. 

BOTH were pale in trie rose light, 
and Stanley limped with the pain 
of his bruised leg ; but both had recov- 
ered from their partial suffocation as 
completely as had I. 

"We thought pechaos you'd decided 
to swim back up to thesRdsa and leave 
us to our fates," saidJCtanley after we 
had stopped pumping each other's ana 
and had seated ourselves. 



w 



MAROONED UNDER THE SEA 



361 



"And I thought — well, I didn't think 
much of anything," I replied. "I was 
too busy straining my eyesight over 
the wonders of this city. Did you ever 
tee anything like it?" 

"We haven't Been it at all, save for a 
view from the windows," said Stanley. 
"AH we know of the place is that a 
while ago we woke up jn a room like 
this, only much smaller and less lavish. 
I wonder why you rate/ this distinc- 
tion?" J \ 

I described the streets as I had seen 
them. (It is impossible for me to 
think of them as anything but streets ; 
it would seem as though the rock roof 
over all would give the appearance of 
a series of tunnels ; but L had always 
the impression of airiness and open- 
ness.) 

"Light and heat are furnished by 
natural gas," said the Professor when 
I remarked on the perfection of these 
two necessities. \ "That's what makes 
the low roaring noise — the thousands 
of burning jets. But the presence of 
gas here isn't as unusual as the pres- 
ence of air. Where does that come 
from? Through wandering under- 
ground mazes from some cave mouth 
in the Fiji Islands to the north ? That 
would indicate that all the' earth 
around here is honeycombed like a gi- ' 
, gantic section of sponge. I wonder — '1 
"Have you any idea how we were\ 
rescued?" I interrupted, a little impa- 
tient of his abstract scientific ponder- 
ing". 

"We have," said Stanley. "A woman 
told us. We woke up to find her nurs- 
ing ub — gorgeous looking thing-c^nest 
woman I've ever seen, and I've seen a 
good many — " 

"She didn't exactly 'tell' us," re- 
marked the Professor with his, thin 
smile. Women were only interesting 
to him as biological studies. "She 
drew a diagram tWt explained it. 

"That tunnel/Martin, was like the 
outer diving chamber of a submarine. 
We were hauled in on a big windlass — 
driven by gas turbines, I think. Once 
we were inside, a twenty-yard, coun- 



terbalanced wall of rock was lowered 
across the entrance. Then^the water 
was drained out through a well and 
into a subterranean body of water that 
extends under the entire city. And 
here we are." 

We fell silent. Here we were. But 
what was going to happen to us among 
these friendly-se,eming people; and 
how — if ever — we were going to get 
back to the earth's surface, were ques- 
tions we could not even try to answer. 

E ate of the appetizing food 
laid out on the long table. 
Shortly afterward we heard steps in 
the corridor outside the room. 

A woman entered. She was ravish- 
ingly beautiful, tall, slender but sym- 
metrically rounded. A soft leather 
robe slanted upward across her breast 
to a single shoulder fastening, and 
ended just above her knees in a skirt 
arrangement. Around her head was a 
regal circlet of silvery gray metal with 
a flashing bit pi crystal set in the cen- 
ter above her broad, low forehead. 

She smiled at Stanley who looked 
dazzled and smiled eagerly back. 

She pointed toward the door, signi- 
fying that we were to go with her. 
We did so; and were led down the 
great staircase and to a huge room that 
took up half the ground floor of the 
building. And her,e we met the no- 
bility of the little kingdom — the upper 
class that governed the immaculate lit- 
tle 1 city. ' 

They were standing along the walls, 
leaving a lane down the center of the 
foorn — tall, finely modelled men and 
women dressed in the single garments 
£pf soft leather. There were people 
there with gray hair and wisdom wrin- 
kled faces; but all were alike in being 
erect of body, firm of bearing and in 
splendid health. , 

They stopped talking as we entered 
the big room. Our gaze strayed ahead 
down the lane toward the further wall. 

Here was a raised dais. On it was a 
gleaming, crystal encrusted throne. 
And occupying it -was the most 



w 



362 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



queenly, exquisitely beautiful woi 
I had ever dreamed about. 




OMAN ? She was just a girl in 
years in spite of her grave and 
royal air. Her eyes were deep violet. 
Her hair was black as ebony and gleam- 
ing with sudden glints of light. Her 
skin — 

But she cannot be described. Only 
a great painter could give a hint of her 
glory. Too, I might truthfully be de- 
scribed as prejudiced about her per- 
fections. 

The Queen, for patently she was 
that, bowed graciously at us. It seemed > 
to me— ^hough I told myself that I was 
an imaginative fool — that her eyes 
rested longest on me, and had in them 
an expression not granted to the Pro- 
fessor or Stanley. 

She spoke to us, a melodious sen- 
tence or two, and waved her beautiful 
hand in which was a short ivory wand, 
evidently a scepter. 

"She's probably giving us the keys 
to the city," whispered Stanley. He 
edged nearer the fair one who had con- 
ducted us. "I sincerely hope there's 
room here for us." 

The open lane closed in on us. Men 
and women crowded about us, speak- 
ing to us and smiling ruefully as they 
realized we could not understand. I 
noticed that, for some curious reason, 
they seemed fascinated by the color of 
my hair. Red-haired men were evi-/ 
dently scarce there. '«• 

At length the beauty who had so cap- 
tured Stanley's fancy, and who seemed 
to have been appointed a sort of men- 
tor for us, suggested in sign language 
that we might want to return to our 
quarters. ' 

It was a welcome suggestion. We 
were done in by the experiences and 
emotions that had gripped us since 
leaving the Rosa such an incredibly 
few hours ago. 

We went back to the second floor, 
I to my luxurious big apartment and 
Stanley and the Professor to their 
smaller but equally comfortable rooms. 



AT~ PLEASANT period slid by, 
<£ JL every waking hour of which wm 
filled with new experiences. 

The city's name, we found, was Zyo- 
bor. It was a perfect little community. 
There were artisans and thinkers, art- 
ists and laborers — all alike in being 
physically perfect beyond belief and 
cultured as no race on top the ground 
is cultured. 

As we began to learn the language, 
more exact details of the practical 
methods of existence were revealed to 
us. 

The surrounding earth furnished 
them with building materials, metali 
and unlimited gas. The; sea, so near 
us and yet so securely walled away, 
gave them food. Which warrants t 
mere detailed description: 

We were informed that the manlike, 
two-armed fishes were the servants of 
these people — domesticated animals, in 
a sense, only of an extremely high 
order of intelligence. They were di- 
rected by mental telephaihy. (Every 
man, woman and child in Zyobor was 
skilled at thought projection. They 
conversed constantly, from end to end 
of the city, by mental telepathy.) 

Protected in their sppned shells, 
which they captured from; the schools 
of porcupine fish that swarmed in Pen- 
guin Deep, they gathered, sea vegeta- 
tion from the higher levels and trapped 
sea creatures. These were brought into 
the subterranean chamber where our 
glass ball now reposed. ■ Then the 
chamber was emptied of water and the 
food was borne to the city. 

The vast army of mound-fish pro- 
vided the bulk of the population's food, 
and also furnished the thick, pliant 
skin they used for clothing; and drapes, 
They were cultivated as we cultivate 
cattle — an ominous herd, to be handled 
with care and approached by the fiat- 
servants with due caution.- 

Thus, with all- reasonable wants sat- 
isfied, with talent and brains to design 
beautiful surroundings, lighted and 
warmed by inexhaustible natural gal, 
these fortunate beings lived their sbel- 



w 



MARQONED UNDER THE SEA 



363 



tered lives in their rosy underground 
world. 

At least I thought their lives were 
sheltered then. It was only later, when 
talking to the beautiful young Queen, 
that I learned of the dread menace that 
had begun to draw near to. them just a 
short time before we were rescued. . . . 

MY first impression, when we had 
entered the throne room that 
first day, that the Queen had regarded 
me more intently than she had Stanley 
or the Professor, had beer, right. It 
pleased her to treat me as an equal, and 
to give me more of her time than was 
granted to any other person in the city. 

Every day, fcr a growing number of 
hours, we were together in her apart- 
ment. She personally instructed me in 
the language, and such was my desire 
to talk to this radiant being that I 
made an apt pupil. 

Soon I bad "progressed enough to 
converse with her — in, a stilted, incor- 
rect way — on all but the most abstract 
of subjects. It was a fine language. I 
liked it, as I liked everything else 
about ZyobpX The upper earth seemed 
far away andXwell forgotten. 

Her name, )I found, was Aga. A 
beautiful name. . . . 

"How did your kingdom begin?" I 
asked her one day, while we were sit- 
ting beside one of the small pools in 
the gardens. We were close together. 
Now and then my" shoulder touched 
hers, and she did nc^ draw away. 

"I know not," she replied. "It is 
older than any of our ancient records 
can say. I am the three hundred and 
eleventh of the present reigning line." 

"And we are the first to enter thy 
realm from the upper world?" 
"Thou art the first." 
"There is no other entrance but the 
sea-way into which we were drawn?" 
"There is no other entrance." 

I WAS silent, trying to realize the 
finality of my residence here. 
At the moment I didn't care much if 
I never got home I 



"In the monarchies we know above," 
I said finally, avoiding her violet eyes, 
"it is not the custom for the queen — 
or king — to reign alone. A consort is 
chosen. Is it not so here? Hast thou 
not, among thy nobles, some one thou 
hast destined — " 

I stopped, feeling that if she dis- 
missed me in anger and never spoke to 
me again the punishment would be 
just. 

But she wasn't angry. A lovely tide 
of color stained her cheeks. Her lips 
parted, and she turned her head. For 
a long time she said nothing. Then 
she faced me, with a light in her eyes 
that sent tike blood racing in my veins. 

"I have not yet chosen," she mur- 
mured. "Mayhap soon I shall tell thee 
why." 

She rose and hurried back toward 
the palace. But at the door she paused 
— and smiled at me in a way that had 
nothing whatever to do with queen- 
ship. 

AS the time sped by the three of 
us settled into the routine of the 
city as though we had never known of 
anything else. 

The Professor spent most of his time 
down by the sea chamber where the 
food was dragged in by the intelligent 
servant-fish. 

He was in a zoologist's paradise. 
Not a creature that came in there had 
ever been catalogued before. He wrote 
reams of notes on the parchment paper 
used by the citizens in recording their 
transactions. Particularly was he in- 
terested in the vast, lowly mound-fish. 

One time, when I happened to be 
with him, the receding waters of the 
chamber disclosed the body of one of 
the odd herdsmen of these deep' sea 
flocks. Then the Professor's elation 
knew no bounds. We hurried forward 
to look at it. 

"It is a typical fish," puzzled the Pro- 
fessor When we had cut the body out 
of its usurped armor. "Cold bloodedfi 
adapted to the chill and pressure of 
the deeps. There are the gills I ob- 



364 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



served before . . . yet it looks very hu- 
man." 

It surely did. There were the 
jointed arms, and the rudimentary 
hands. Its forehead was domed; and 
the brain, when dissected, proved much 
larger than the brain of a true fish. 
Also its bones were not those of a 
mammal, but the cartilagenous bones 
of a fish. It was not quite six feet 
long; just fitted the horny shell. 

"But its intelligence!" fretted the 
Professor, glorying. in his inability to 
classify this marvelous specimen. "No 
fish could ever attain such mental de- 
velopment. Evolution working back- 
ward from human to reptile and then 
fish— or a new freak of evolution 
whereby a fish on a ( short cut toward 
becoming human?" He sighed and 
gave it up. But more reams of notes 
were written. 

"Why do you take them?" I asked. 
"No one but yourself will ever see 
them." 

HE looked at me with professorial 
absent-mindedness. < 
"I take them for the fun of it, prin- 
cipally. But perhaps, sometime, we 
may figure out a way of getting them 
up. My Cod! Wouldn't my learned 
brother scientists be set in an uproar!" 

He bent to his Observations and dis- 
sections again, cursing now and then 
at the distortion suffered by the speci- 
mens when they were released from 
the deej> sea pressure and swelled and 
burst in the atmospheric pressure in 
the cave. 

Stanley was engrossed in a different 
way. Since the moment he laid eyes 
on her, he had belonged to the stately 
woman who had first nursed him back 
to consciousness. Mayis was her name. 

From shepherding the three of us 
around Zydbor and explaining its mar- 
vels to us, she had taken to exclusive 
tutorship of Stanley. And Stanley 
fairly ate it up. 

"You, the notorious woman hater," I 
taunted him one time, "the w^ary bache- 
lor — to fall at last. And for a woman 



of another world — almost of another 
planet! I'm amazed!" 

"I don't know why you should bt 
amazed," said he stiffly. 

"You've been telling me ever tines 
I -was a kid that women Were all use- 
less, all alike — " 

"I find I was mistaken," he inter- 
rupted. "They aren't all alike. There's 
only one Mayis. She is — different." 

"What do you talk abouTJall the* 
time? You're with her constantly." 

"I'm not with her any more than 
you're with the Queen," he shot back 
at me. "What do you find to talk 
about?" 

That shut me up. He Went to look 
for Mayis; and I wandered to' the royal 
apartments in search of- Aga. 

IN the first days of our friendship 
I had several times surprised in 
Aga's eyes a curious expression, one 
that seemed compounded of ojespair, 
horror and resignation. ' 

I had Been tnat_samc expression in 
the syes of the nones of: late, and in 
the faces of all the people I encoun- 
tered in the streets — who, I mustn't 
forget to add here, never failed to treat 
me with a deference that was as intoxi- 
cating, as it was inexplicable. 

It was as though some terrible fate 
hovered over the populace; some dread- 
ful doom about which nothing could be 
done. No one put into words any fern 
that might confirm that* impression; 
but continually I got the idea that 
everybody there went about in a state 
of attempting to live normally and 
happily while life was still left— be- 
fore some awful, wholesale death de- 
scended on them. 

At last, from Aga, I learned the fate- 
ful reason. 

But first — a confession fiat was hast- 
ened by the knowledge orf the fate of 
the city — I learned from her something 
that changed all of life for' me. 

P were surrounded by the lux- 
ury of her private apartment 
We sat on a low divan, side by aid* 



w 



MAROONED UNDER THE SEA 



365 



I wanted, more than anything I had 
ever wanted before, to put my arms 
around her. But I dared not. One 
does not make love easily to a queen, 
the three hundred and eleventh of a 
proud line. 

And then, as maids have done often 
in all countries/ and, perhaps, on all 
planets, she took the initiative herself. 

"We have a curious custom in Zyo- 
bor of which I have not yet told thee," 
the murmured. "It concerns the kings 
of Zyobor. The color of their hair." 

She glanced up at my own carrot- 
top, and then averted her gaze. 

"For all of our, history our kings 
have had — red hair. On the few occa- 
sions when the line has been reduced 
tq a lone queen, as in my case, the red- 
haired men of the kingdom have 
striven together in public combat to 
determine which was most powerful 
and brave. The winner became the 
Queen's consort." 

"And in this case?" I asked, my 
heart beginning to pound madly. 

"In my case, my ldrd, there is to be 
no — do striving. When I was a child 
our only two red-haired males died, 
one by accident, one by sickness. Now 
there are none others but infants, none 
of eligible age. But — by a miracle — 
thou—" 

She Btopped; then gazed up at me 
from under long, gold flecked lashes. 

"I was afraid . . I was doomed to 
die . . . alone. . ." 

IT was after I had replied impetu- 
ously to this, that she told me of 
the terror that was about to engulf all 
life in the beautiful undersea city. 

"Thou hast wonder, perhaps, why I 
tbould be forward enough to tell thee 
this instead of waiting for thine own 
confession first," she faltered. "Know, 
then — the reason is the shortness of 
the time we are fated to spend to- 
gether. We shall belong each to the 
•ther only a little while. Then shall 
we belong to death! And I — when I 
knew the time was to be so brief — " 
And I listened with growing horror 



to her account of the enemy that was 
advancing toward us with every pass- 
ing moment. 

ABOUT twenty miles away, in the 
lowest depression of Penguin 
Deep, lived a race of monsters which 
the people of Aga's city called Quabos. 

The Quabos were grim beings that 
were more intelligent than Aga's fish- 
servants— even, she thought, more in- 
telligent than humans themselves. 
They had existed in their dark hole, as 
far as the Zyobites knew, from the be- 
ginning of time. 

Through the countless centuries 
they had constructed for themselves a 
vast series of dens in the rock. There 
they had hidden away from the deep- 
sea dangers. They, too, preyed on the 
mound-fish ; but as there was plenty of 
food for all, the Zyobites had n ever^ 
paid much attention to them. 

But — just before we had appeared, 
there had come about a subterranean 
quake that changed the entire com- 
plexion of matters in Penguin Deep. 

The earthquake wiped out the elab- 
orately burrowed sea tunnels of the 
Quabos, killing half of them at a blow 
and driving the rest out into the un- 
friendly openness of the deep. 

Now this was f.atal to them. They 
were not used to physical self defense. 
During the thousands of years of resi- 
dence in their sheltered burrows they 
had become utterly unable to exist 
when exposed to the primeval dangers 
of the sea. It was as though the civili- 
zation softened citizens of New York 
should suddenly be set down in a 
howling wilderness with nothing but 
their bare hands with jphich to con- 
trive all the necessities of a living. 

SUCH was the situation at the time 
Stanley, the Professor and myself 

arrived in 'Zyobor. \ 

The Quabos must find an immediate 
haven or perish. On the ocean bottom 
they were threatened by the mound- 
fish. In the higher levels they were 
in danger from almost everything that 



366 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



swam: few things were so defenceless 
as themselves after their long inertia. 
[ Their answer was Zyobor. There, 
in perfect security, only to be reached 
by the diving chamber that could be 
sealed at will by the twenty-yard, 
counterbalanced lock, the Quabos 
would be even more protected than in 
their former runways. 

So— they were working day and 
night to invade Aga's city I 

"But Aga," I interrupted impul- 
sively at this point. "If these mon- 
sters are fishes, how could they live 
here in air — " 

I stopped as my objection answered 
itself before she could reply. 

They would not have to live in air 
to inhabit Zyobor. They would inun- 
date the city — flood that peaceful, 
beautiful place with the awful pres- 
sure of the lowest depths! 

That thought, in turn, suggested to 
me that every building in Zyobor 
would be swept flat if subjected sud- 
denly to the rush of the sea. The 
great low cavern, without the support 
of the myriad walls, would probably 
collapse — trapping the invading Qua- 
bos and leaving the rest without a 
home once more. 
[But Aga answered this before I 
could voice it. 

The Quabos had foreseen that point. 
They were tunneling slowly but surely 
toward the city from a point about 
half a mile from the diving chamber. 
And as they advanced, they blocked 
up the passageway behind them at in- 
tervals, drilled down to the great un- 
derground sea that lay berieath all this 
section, and drained a little of the 
water away. 

IN this manner they lightened, bit by 
bit, the enormous weight of the 
ocean depths. When the city was finally 
reached, not only would it be ensured 
against sudden destruction but the 
Quabos themselves would have become 
accustomed to the difference in pres- 
sure. Had they gone immediately from 
the accustomed press of Penguin Deep 



into the atmosphere of Zyobor, they 
would have burst into bits. As it wis 
they would be able to flood the city 
slowly, without injury to themselves. 

"Now thou knowest our fate," con- 
cluded Aga with a shudder. "Zyobor 
will be a part of the great waters. We 
ourselves shall be food for these mon- 
sters. . . ." She faltered and stopped. 

"But (his cannot be I" I exclaimed, 
clenching ray fists impotently. "There 
must be something we can do; some 
way,-" * 

"There is nothing to be done. Our 
wisest men have set themselves sleep- 
lessly to the task of defence. There 
is no defence possible." 

"We can't simply sit here and waitl 
Your people are wonderful, but this 
is no time for resignation. Send for 
my two friends, Aga. We will have a 
council of war, we four, and see if we 
can find a way I" 

She shrugged despairfully, started 
to speak, then sent in quest of Stanley 
and the Professor. 

THEY, as well as myself, had had 
no idea of the menace that crept 
nearer us with each passing hour. 
They were dumbfounded, horrified to 
learn of the j>eril. We sat awhile in 
silence, realizing our situation to the 
, full. 

Then the Professor spoke: 

"If only we could see what these 
things look like! It might help in 
planning to defeat them." 

"That can be done with ease," said 
Aga. "Come." 

We went with her to the gardens and 
approached the nearest pool. 

"My fish-men are watching the 
Quabos constantly. They report to me 
by telepathy whenever I send my 
thoughts their way. I will let you see, 
on the pool, the things they are now 
seeing." 

She stared intently at the sheet of 
water. And gradually, as "we watched, 
a picture appeared — a picture that will 
never fade from my memory in any 
smallest detail. 



MAROONED UNDER THE SEA 



367 



The Qua bos had huddled for pro- 
tection into a large cave at the foot of 
the cliff outside Zyobor. There were 
a great many Quabos, and the cave was 
relatively confining. Now we saw, 
through the eyes of the spine pro- 
tected outpost of the Queen, these 
monstrous refugees crowded together 
like sheep. 

The watery cavern was a creeping 
mass of viscous tentacles, enormous 
■taring eyes and globular heads. The 
cave was paved three deep with the 
horrible things, and they were attached 
to the walls and roof in solid blocks. 

"My God I" whispered Stanley. 
"There are thousands of them I" 
V 

THERE were. And that they were 
in distress was evident. 
The layers on the floor were weav- 
ing and shifting constantly as the bot- 
tom creatures struggled feebly to rise 
to the top of the mass and be relieved 
of the weight of their brothers. Also 
they were famished. . . . 

One of the blood red, gigantic 
worms floated near the cave entrance. 
Like lightning the nearest Quabos 
darted after it. In a moment the prey 
was torn to bits by the ravenous mon- 
sters. 

The other side of the story was im- 
mediately portrayed to us. 

With the emerging of the reckless 
Quabos, a sea-serpent appeared from 
above and snapped up three of their 
number. Evidently the huge serpent 
considered them succulent tidbits, and 
made it its business to wait near the 
cave and avail itself of just such rash 
chance-taking as this. 

While we watched the nightmare 
scene, a Quabo disengaged itself from 
the parent mass and floated upward 
into the clear, giving us a chance to 
ace more distinctly what the creatures 
looked like. 

There was a black, shiny head as 
large as a sugar barrel. In this were 
eyes the size of dinner plates, and 
(laming with a cold, hellish intelli- 
lenee. Four long, twining tentacles 



were attached directly to the head. 
Dotted along these were rudimentary 
sucker discs, th» had evidently become 
atrophied by the soft living of thou- 
sands of the creature's ancestors. 

As though emerging from the pool 
into which we were gazing, the mon- 
ster darted viciously at us. At once 
it disappeared : the fish-servant through 
whose eyes we were seeing all this had 
evidently retreated from the approach ; 
although, protected by its spines, it 
could not have been in actual danger. 

"How dost thou know of the tun- 
neling?" I asked Aga. "Thy fish-men 
cannot be present there, in the rear of 
the tunnel, to report." 

"My artisans have knowledge of each 
forward move," she answered. "I will 
show thee." 

E walked back to the palace 
and descended to a smooth- 
lined Vault. There we saw a great btone 
shaft sunk down into the rock 01 s the 
floor. On this was a delicate vibration 
/ recording instrument of some sort, 
with a needle that quivered rhythm- 
ically over several degrees of an arc. 

"This tells of each move of the 
Quabos,**~Wid Aga. "It also tells us 
where they will break through the city 
wall. How near to us are they, Kilor?" 
she asked an attendant who was study- 
ing the dial, and who had bowed re- 
spectfully to Aga and myself as we 
approached. 

"They will break into the city in 
four rixas at the present rate of ad- 
vance, Your Majesty." 4 

Four rixas I In a little over sixteen 
days, as we count time, the city of 
Zyobor would be delivered into the 
hands — or, rather, tentacles— of the 
slimy, starving demons that huddled 
in the cavern outside I 

Somberly we followed Aga back to 
her apartment. 

"AS thou seest," she murmured, 
11 "there is nothing to be done. 
We can only resign ourselves to the 
fate that nears us, and enjoy as much 



W 



368 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



as may be the few remaining rixas. . . ." 

She glanced at me. 

The Professor's dry, cool voice cut 
across our wordless, engrossed com- 
munion. 

"I don't think we'll give up quite as 
easily as all that. We can at least try 
to outwit our enemies. If it does noth- 
ing else for us, the effort can serve to 
distract our minds." 

He drew from his pocket a sheet of 
parchment and the stub of his last re- 
maining pencil. His fingers busied 
themselves apparently idly in the trac- 
ing of geometric lines. 

"Looking ahead to the exact details 
of our destruction," he mused coolly, 
"we see that our most direct and 
ominous enemy is the sea itself. When 
the city is flooded, we drown — and 
later, the Quabos can enter at will." 

He drew a few more lines, and 
marked a cross at a point in the futer 
rim of {he diagram. 

"What will happen? The Quabos 
force through the last shell of the city 
wall. The water from their tunnel 
floods into Zyobor. But—- and mark me 
well — only the water from the tunnel I 
The outer end, remember, is blocked 
off in their pressure-reducing process. 
The vast body of the sea itself cannot 
immediately be let in here because the 
Quabos must take as long a time to re- 
accustom themselves to its pressure as 
they did to work out of it." 

He spread the parchment sheet be- 
fore us. 

"Is this a roughly accurate plan of 
the city?" be asked Aga. f 

She inclined her lovely head. 

"And this," indicating the cross, "is 
the spot where the Quabos will break 
in?" 

Again she nodded, shuddering. 
''Then tell me what you think of 
this," said the Professor. 

AND he proceeded to sketch out a 
plan so simple, and yet so seem- 
ingly efficient,' that the rest of us gazed 
at him with wordless admiration. 
"My friend, my friend," whispered 



Aga at last, "thou hast saved us. Thou 
art the guardian hero of Zyobor — " 

"Not too fast. Your Highness," in- 
terrupted the Professor with his frosty 
smile. "I shall be much surprised U 
this little scheme actually saves the 
city. "We may find the rock so thick 
there that our task is hopeless — though 
I imagine the Quabos picked a thin 
section for help in their own plans." 

A vague look came into his eyes. 

"I must certainly get my hands on 
one of these monsters . superhu- 
manly intelligent fish . . . marvelous 
— akin to the octopus, perhaps?" 

He wandered off, changed from the 
resourceful schemer to the dreamy 
man of scientific abstractions. 

The Queen gazed after him with 
wonder in her eyes. 

"A great man," she murmured, "but 
is he — a little mad?" 

"No, only a little^tbsent-minded," I 
replied. Then, "Come on, Stanley. 
We'll round up every able bodied citi- 
zen in Zyobor and get to work. I sup- 
pose they have some kind of rock drill- 
ing machinery here?" 

They had. And they strangely re- 
sembled our own rock drills : revolving 
metal shafts, driven by gas turbines, 
tipped with fragments of the same 
crystal that glittered so profusely in 
the palace walls. Another proof that 
practically every basic, badly needed 
tool bad been invented again and again, 
in all lands and times, as the necessity 
for it arose. 

With hundreds of the powerful men 
of Zyobor working as closely together 
as they could without cramping each 
others movements, and with the whole 
city resounding to the it of the ma- 
chinery, we labored at r. : defence that 
might possibly check the advance of 
the hideous Quabos. 

And with every „.eath we drew, 
waking or sleeping, we realized that 
the cold blooded, in human invadcn 
had crept a fraction of an inch dots 
in their tunnelJng. 

The Quabos\against the Zyobitesl 
Fish against man I Two diametrically ' 



MAROONED UNDER THE SEA 



369 



opposed species of life in a struggle 
to the death I Which us would sur- 
vive? 

THE hour if the struggle ap- 
proached. Every soul in Zyobor 
moved in a daze, with strained face and 
fear haunted eyes. Their proficiency 
in mental telepathy was a curse to. 
them now: every one carried con- 
stantly, transmitted from the brains of 
the servant-fish outposts, a thought 
picture of that outer cavern in the 
murky depths of which writhed the 
thousands of crowding Quabos. Each 
mind in Zyobor was in continual tor- 
ment. / I 

Spared that testable, at least, Stanley 
and the Profeisor^and I walked down 
to the fortification we had so hastily 
contrived. It was finished. And none 
too soon: the vibration indicator in 
the palace vault told us that only two 
feet of rock separated us from the bur- 
rowing monsters I 

The Professor's scheme- had been to 
cut a long slot down through the rock 
floor of the city to the roof of the vast, 
mysterious body of water below. 

This slot was placed directly in 
front of the spot in the city wall where 
the Quabos were about to emerge. As 
they forced through the last shell of- 
rock, the deluge of water, instead of 
drowning the city, was supposed to 
drain down the oblong vent. Any 
Quabos that were too near the tunnel 
entrance would be swept down too. 

IN silence we approached the edge 
of . the great trough and stared 
down. 

There was a stratum of black gran- 
ite, fortunately only about thirty feet 
thick at this point, and then — the 
depths I A low roar reached our ears 
from far, far beneath us. A steady 
Hast of ice cold air fanned up against 
at 

The Professor threw down a large 
fragment of rock. Seconds elapsed 
■d we heard no splash. The unseen 
■"free was too far below for the noise 



of the rock's fall to carry on up to us. 

"The mystery of this ball of earth 
on which we live I" murmured the Pro- 
fessor. "Here is this enormous under- 
ground body of water. We are far be- 
low sea level. Where, then, is it flow- 
ing? WTiat does it empty into? Can 
it be that our planet is honeycombed 
with such hollows as this we are in? 
And is each inhabited by some form of 
life?" 

He sighed and shook his head. 

"The thought is too bigj. For, if 
that were true, wouldn't the seas be 
drained from the surface of the earth 
•> should an accidental "passage be formed 
from the ocean bed down to such a 
giant river as this beneath us? How 
little we know I" 

THE wild clamor of an alarm bell 
interrupted his musing. From all 
the city houses poured masses of 
people, to form in solid lines behind 
the large well. 

In addition to men, there were many 
women in those lines,' tall and strong, 
ready to stand by their mates as long 
as life was left them. There were chil- 
dren, too, scarcely in their teens, pre- 
pared to fight for the existence of the 
race. Every able-bodied Zyobite was 
mustered against the cold-blooded 
Things that pressed so near. 

The arms of these desperate fighters 
were pitiful compared to our own war 
weapons. With no need in the city for 
fighting engines, none had ever been 
developed. Now the best that could be 
had was a sort of ax, used for dissect- 
ing the mound-fish, and, various knives 
fashioned for peaceful purposes. 

Again the bell clamored forth a 
warning, this time twice repeated. 
Every hand grasped its weapon! Every 
eye went hopefully to the hole in the 
floor on which our immediate fate de- 
pended, then valiantly to the section 
of wall above it. 

This quivered perceptibly. A heavy, 
pointed instrument broke through ; was 
withdrawn; and a hissing stream of 
water spurted out. 



370 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



ifThe Quabos were about to break in 
upon us I 

ITH a crash that made the solid 
rock tremble, 4 section of the 
wall collapsed. It was the top half of 
the end of the Quabos' tunnel. They 
had so wrought that the lower half 
stayed in place — a thing we did not 
have time to recognize as significant 
until later. 

A solid wall of water, in which 
writhed dozens of tentacled monsters, 
was upon us, and we had time for noth- 
ing but action. 

The ditch had of necessity been 
placed directly under the Quabos' en- 
trance. The first rush of water carried 
half over it. With it were borne scores 
of the cold-blooded invaders. 

In an instant we were standing knee 
deep in a torrent that tore at our foot- 
ing, while we hacked frantically with 
knives and axes at the slimy tentacles 
that reached up to drag us under. 

A soft, horrible mass swept against 
my legp. I was overthrown. 'A ten- 
tacle ilithered around my neck and 
constricted viciously like a length of 
rotten cable. I sawed at it with the 
long, notched blade I carried. Choking 
for air, It felt the pressure relax and 
scrambled to my knees. 

Two more tentacles went around me, 
one winding about my legs and the 
other crushing my waist. Two huge 
eyes glared fiendishly at me. 

I plunged the knife "again and again 
into the barrel-shaped head. It did not 
bleed: a few drops of thin, yellowish 
liquid oozed from the wounds but aside 
from this my slashing seemed to make 
no impression. 

In a frenzy I defended myself 
against the nightmare head that was 
winding surely toward me. Meanwhile 
I devoted every energy to keeping on 
my feet. If I ever went under again — 
It seemed to me that the creature 
was weakening. With redoubled fury 
I hacked at the spidery shape. And 
gradually, when it seemed as though 
I could not withstand its weight and 



crushing tentacles another second, ft 
slipped away and floated off on the 
shallow, roaring rapids. 

FOR a moment I stood there, catch- 
ing my breatH and regaining my 
strength. Shifting, terrible scenes 
flashed before my eyes. 

A tall Zyobite and an almost equally 
stalwart woman were both caught by 
one gigantic Quabo which had a ten- 
tacle around the throat of each. The 
man and woman were chopping at the 
viscous, gruesome head. One of the 
Thing's eyes was gashed across, giving 
it a fearsome, blind appearance. It 
heaved convulsively, and the three 
struggling figures toppled into the wa- 
ter and were swirled away. 

The Professor was almost buried by 
a Quabo that had all four of its ten- 
tacles wound about him. As methodic- 
ally as though he were in a laboratory 
dissecting room, he was cutting the 
slippery lengths away, one by one, till 
the fourth parted and left him free. 

A giant Zyobite was struggling with 
two- of the monsters. He had an ax in 
each hand, and was whirling them with 
such strength and rapidity that they 
formed flashing circles of light over 
his head. But he was tom down at 
last and borne off by the almost undi- 
minished flood that gushed from the 
tunnel. 

And now, without warning, a heavy 
soft body flung against my back, and 
the accident most to be dreaded in that 
melee occurred. 

I was knocked off my feet I My head 
was pressed under the water. On my 
chest was a mass that was yielding but 
immovable, soft but terribly strong. 
Animated, firm jelly I I had no chance 
to use my knife. My arms were held 
powerless against my Bides. 

Water filled my nose and mouth. I 
strangled for breath, heaving at the im- 
placable weight that pinned me help- 
less. Bright spots swirled before my 
eyes. There was a roaring in my can. 
My lungs felt as though filled with 
molten lead. I was drowning. .. • 



W 



MAROONED UNDER THE SEA 



371 



VAGUELY I felt the pressure 
loosen at last. An arm — with good, 
■olid flesh and bone in it — slipped un- 
der my shoulders and dragged me up 
into the air. 

"Don't you know — can't drown a fish 
—holding it Under water?" panted a 
voice. 

I opened my eyes and saw Stanley, 
his face pale with the thrill of battle, 
his chin jutting forward in a berserk 
line, his eyes snapping with eager, 
wary fireV s, 

I grinned up at him and he slapped 
me on the back — almost' completing 
the choking process started by the sajj 
water I'd inhaled. 

"That's better. Now — at it again I" 

I don't remember the rest of the tu- 
mult. The air seemed filled with loath- 
some tentacles and bright metal blades. 
It was a confused eternity until the 
decreased volume of water in the tun- 
nel gave us a respite. . . . 

As the tunnel slowly emptied the 
pressure dropped, and the incoming 
flood poured squarely into the trough 
instead of half over it. From that mo- 
ment there was very little more for us 
to do. 

Our little army — with about a fourth 
of its number gone — had only to guard 
the ditch and see that none of the Qua- 
bos caught the edges as they hurtled 
out of their passage. 

For perhaps ten minutes longer the 
water poured from the break in the 
wall, with now and then a doomed 
Quabo that goggled horribly at us as 
it was dashed down the hole in the 
floor to whatever awesome depths were 
beneath. 

Then the flow ceased. The last 
oleaginous corpse was pushed over the 
edge. And the city, save for an ankle- 
deep sheet of water that was rapidly 
draining out the vents in the streets, 
presented its former appearance. 

The Zyobites leaned wearily against 
convenient walls and began telling 
themselves how fortunate they were to 
have been spared What seemed certain 
destruction. 



THE Professor didn't share in the 
general feeling of triumph. 
"Don't be so childishly optimistic I" 
he snapped as I began to congratulate 
him on the victory his ditch had given 
us. "Our troubles aren't over yet I" 

"But we'Ve proved that we can stand 
up to them in a hand-to-tentacle 
fignt— " 

His thin, frosty smile appeared. 

"One of those devils, normally, is 
stronger than any three men. The only 
reason all of us weren't destroyed at 
once is that they w^ere slowly suffocat- 
ing as they foughf. The foot and a 
half of water we were in wasn't enough 
to let their gills function properly. 
Now if they were able to stand right 
up to us, and hot be handicapped by 
lack of water to breathe ... I won- 
der. ... Is that part of their plan? Is 
there any way they could manage. . . ?" 

"But, Professor," I argued, "it's all 
over, isn't it? The tunnel is emptied, 
and all the Quabos are — " 

"The tunnel isn't emptied. It's only 
half emptied I I'll show you." 

He called Stanley; and the three of 
us went to the break. 

"See," the Professor pointed out to 
us as we approached the jagged hole, 
"the Quabos only drilled through the 
top half of their tunnel ending. That 
means that the tunnel still has about 
four feet of water in it — enough to 
accommodate a great many of the mon- 
sters. There may be four or five hun- 
dredof/them left in there; possibly 
mors We can expect renewed hostili- 
ties at any timet" 

"But won't it be, just a repetition of 
the first battle?" remonstrated Stanley. 
"In the end they'll be killed or will 
drown for lack of water as these first 
ones did." 

THE Professor shook his head. 
"They're too clever to do that 
twice. The very fact that they kept 
half their number in reserve shows that 
they have some new trick to try. Oth- 
erwise they'd all have come at once in 
one supreme effort." 



372 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



He paced back and forth. 

"They're ingenious, intelligent 
They're fighting for their very exist- 
ence. They must have figured out some 
way of breathing in air, some way of 
attacking us on a more even basis in 
case that first rush went wrong. What 
can it be?" 

"I think you're borrowing trouble be- 
fore it is necessary — " I began, smiling '• 
at his elaborate, scientific pessimism. 
But I was interrupted by a startled 
shout from Stanley. 

"Professor Martin," he cried, point- 
ing to the tunnel mouth. "Look I" 

Like twin snakes crawling up to sun 
themselves, two tentacles had appeared 
over the rock rim. They hooked ovjr 
the edge; and leisurely, with grim 
surety of invulnerability, the barrel- 
like head of a Quabo balanced itself 
on the ledge and glared at us. N 
« 

FOR a moment we stared, paralyzed, 
at the Thing. And during i that 
moment it squatted there, as undis- 
tressed as though the air were its nat- 
ural element, its gills flapping slowly 
up and down supplying it with oxygen. 

The thing that held us rooted to the 
spot with fearful amazement was the 
fantastic device that permitted it to be 
almost as much at home in air as in' 
water. 

Over the great, globular head was 
set an oval glass shell. This was filled 
with water. A flexible metal tube 
hung down from the rear. Evidently 
it carried a constant stream of fresh 
water. As we gazed we saw intermit- 
tent trickles emerging from the bot- 
tom of the crystalline case. 

Point for point the creature's equip- 
ment was the same as diving equip- 
ment used by men, only it was exactly 
opposite in function. A helmet tha,t 
enabled a fish to breathe in air, in- 
stead of a helmet to allow a man to 
breate in water 1 

Stanley was the first of us to recover 
from the shock of this spectacle. He 
faced about and raised his voice in 
shouts of warning to the resting 



tZyobites. For other glass encased 
monsters had appeared beside the ant, 
now. 

One by one, in single file like a line 
of enormous marching insects, they 
crawled down the wall and humped 
along on their tentacles— around the 
ditch and toward us I 

THE deadly infallibility of that 
second attack! 
The Quabos advanced on us like ar- 
mored tanks bearing down on defence- 
less savages. Their glass helmets, in 
addition to containing water for their 
breathing, protected them from our 
knives and axes. We were utterly 
helpless against them. 

They marched in ranks about twenty 
yards apart, each rank helping the one 
ifi front to carry the cumbersome 
yater-hoses which trailed back to the 
central water supply in the tunnel. 

Their movements were slow, 
weighted down as they were by the 
great glass helmets, but they were ap- 
pallingly sure. 

We could not even retard their ad- 
vance, let alone stop it. Here were no 
BuSocating, faltering creatures. Here 
were beings possessed of their full 
vigor, each one equal to three of us 
even as the Professor had conjectured. 
Their only weak points were tLcir ten- 
tacles which trailed outside the glass 
cases. But these theyT^nt coiled 
close, so #at to reach them and hack 
at them we had to step within range 
of their terrific clutches. 

The Zyobites fought with the valor 
of despair added, to their inherent 
noble bravery. Man after man closed 
with the monstrous, armored Things- 
only to be seized and crushed by the 
weaving tentacles. 

Occasionally a terrific blow with an 
ax would crack one of the glass hel- 
mets. Then the denuded Quabo would 
flounder convulsively in the air till it 
drowned. But there were all too few 
of these individual victories. The 
main body of the/ Quabos, rank on 
rank, dragging their water-hose be- 



MAROONED UNDER THE SEA 



373 



them, came on with the steadgrtss 
of a machine. 

SLOWLY we were driven back 
down the broad street and toward 
the palace. As we retreated, old 
people and children came ' from the 
bouses and went with us, leaving their 
dwellings to the mercy of the mon- 
sters. 

A block from the palace we bunched 
together and, by sheer mass and fero- 
city, actually stopped the machinelike 
advance for a few moments. Miscel- 
laneous weapons bad been brought 
from the houses — sledges, stone 
benches, anything that might break the 
Quabos' helmets — and handed to us in 
silence by the noncombatants. 

Somebody tugged at my sleeve. 
Looking down I saw a little girl. She, 
had dragged a heavy metal bar out to 
the fray and was trying to get some 
fighter's attention and give it to him. 

I seized the formidable weapon and 
jumped at the nearest Quabo. a ten- 
foot giant whose eyes were glinting 
gigantically at me through the distort- 
ing curve of the glass. 

Disregarding the clutching tenta- 
cles entirely, I swung the bar against 
the helmet. It cracked. I swung again 
and it fell in fragments, spilling the 
gallons of water it had contained. 

The tentacles wound vengefully 
around me, but in a few seconds they 
relaxed as the thing gasped out its life 
in the air. 

I TURNED to repeat the process on 
another if I could, and found my- 
self facing the Queen. Her head was 
held bravely high, though the violet of 
her eyes had gone almost black with 
fear and repulsion of the terrible 
things we fought. 

"Aga I" I cried. "Why art thou here I 
Go back to the palace at once I" 

"I came to fight beside thee," she an- 
swered composedly, though her deli- 
cate lips quivered. "All is lost, it 
teems. So shall I die beside thee." 
I started to reply, to urge her again 



to seek the safety of the palace. But 
by now the deadly advance of the ten- 
tacled demons had begun once more. 

Fighting vainly, the population, of 
Zyobor was swept into the palace 
grounds, then into the building itself. 

Men, women and children huddled 
shoulder to shoulder in the cramping 
quarters. An ironic picture came to 
me of the crowding masses of Quabos 
stuffed into the protection of the outer 
cave, waiting the outcome of the fight 
being waged by their warriors. Here 
were we in a similar circumstance, 
waiting for the battle to be decided. 
Though there was little doubt in the 
minds of any of us as to what the out- 
come would be. 

Guards, the strongest men of the 
city, were stationed with sledges at the 
doors and windows. The Quabos, able 
only to enter one at a time, halted a 
moment and there was a badly needed 
breathing spell, 

M T I 7'E'VE got to find some drastic 
VV means of defence," said the 
Professor, "or we won't last another 
three hours." 

"If you asked me, I'd say we couldn't 
last another three hours anyway," re- 
plied Stanley with a shrug. "These 
fish have out-thought us!" 

"Nonsense f There may still be a 
way — " 

"A brace of machine-guns. I 
murmured hopefully. 

"You might as well wish for a dozen 
light cannon!" snapped the Professor. 
"Please try to concentrate, and see If 
any effective weapon suggests itself to 
you — something more available at the 
moment than machine-guns." 

In silence the three of us racked our 
brains for a means of defence. Aga, 
leaving for a time the task of soothing 
her more hysterical subjects, came qui- 
*etly over to us and sat on the bench 
beside me. 

Frankly I could think of nothing. 
To my mind we were surely doomed. 
What arms could possibly be contrived 
at such short notice? What weapon 



374 



'ASTOUNDING STORIES 



1 



could be called forth to be effective 
against the thick glasjs helmets? 

But as I glanced at Stanley I saw his 
face set in a new expression as his 
thoughts took a turn that suggested 
possible salvation. 

"Glass," he muttered. "Glass. What 
destroys it? Sharp blows . . certain 
acids . . . variation in temperature . . . 
.heat and cold. That's it I That's 

it!" 

He turned excitedly to the Queen. 

"I think we have it I At least it's 
worth trying. If there is any tubing 
around. . . ." He stopped as he realized 
he was talking in English, and resumed 
stiltedly in Aga's own language. 

"Hast thou, in the palace, any lengths 
of pipe like to that which the Quabos 
drag behind them?" • 

"No. . ." Aga began, her eyes round 
and wondering. Then she interrupted 
herself. "Ah, yes I There isl In a 
vault near that of Kilor't there is a 
great spool of it. He had it fashioned 
to carry air for one of his experi- 
ments — " 

"Come along I" cried Stanley. "I'll 
explain what I have in mind while we 
dig up this coil of hose." 

A SCORE of Zyobite workmen 
were gathered at once. The 
length of hose — made of some linen- 
like fabric of tough, shredded sea-weed 
and covered with a flexible ' metal 
sheath — was cut into three pieces each 
about fifty yards long. These were 
connected to three of the largest gas 
vents of the palace. 

Stanley, the Professor and I each 
took an end. And we prepared to fight, 
with fire, the creatures of water. 

"It ought to work," Stanley repeated 
several times as though trying to re- 
assure himself as well as us. "It's sim- 
ple enough: the water in those helmets 
is ice cold; if fire is suddenly squirted 
against them they'll crack with the un- 
even expansion." 

"Unless," retorted the Professor, 
"their glass has some special heat and 
cold resisting quality." * 



Stanley shrugged. 

"It may well have some such proper, 
ties. How such creatures can niafcx 
glass at all is beyond me I" 

Dragging our hose to the big front 
entrance of the palace, and warning the 
crowded people to keep their feet 
dear of it, we prepared to test out the 
efficiency of this, our last resource 
against the enemy. 

FOR an instant we paused just in- 
side; the doorway, looking out at 
the ugly, glassed-in Things that were 
massing to attack us again. 

The ranks of Quabos had closed in 
now, till they extended down the street 
for several hundred yards in close for- 
mation — a forest of great pulpy heads 
with huge eyes that glared unblinking- 
ly at the glittering pink building that 
was their objective. 

"Light up I" ordered Stanley, Betting 
an example by touching his hose nozzle 
to the nearest wall jet. A spurt of fire 
belched from his hose, streaming out 
for four or five feet in a solid red cone. 
The Professor and I touched off oar 
torches; and we moved slowly out the 
door toward the ranks of Quabos. 

"Don't try to save yourselves from 
their tentacles," advised Stanley. 
"Walk right up to them, direct the fire 
against their helmets, and damn the 
consequences. If they grip too hard 
you can always play the torch on their 
tentacles till they think better of it" 
The Quabos' front line humped 
grimly toward us, unblinking eyes 
glaring, tentacles writhing warily, little 
spurts of used water trickling from 
their helmets. 

"Keep together," warned Stanley, 
"so that if any one of js loses his light 
he can get it from the hose of one of 
the other two. And — Here they 
come!" 

There was no more time for com- 
mands. The Quabos in front, supplied 
with slack in their hoses by those be- 
hind, leaped at us with incredible agil- 
ity. We fell back a step so that none 
should get at our backs. 



MAROONED UNDER THE SEA 



375 



The last stand was begun. 

IT was not a battle bo much as a 
series of fierce duels. The Quabos 
realized their new danger instantly, 
and devoted all their efforts to extin- 
guishing our torches. We parried and 
thrust with the flaming hoses in an 
equally desperate effort to prevent ft. 

One of them scuttled toward me like 
a great crab. A tentacle darted toward 
my right arm. Another was pressed 
against the nozzle. There was a sick- 
ening smell — and the , tentacle was 
jerked spasmodically away. 

I caught the hose in my left hand 
and turned the fiery jet against the 
water-filled helmet. 

A shout, of savage exultation broke 
from my lips. Hardly had the flame 
touched the glass before it cracked! 
There was a report like a pistol shot — 
and a miniature Niagara of water and 
■plintered glass poured at my feet! 

The tentacle around my arm tight- 
ened, then relaxed. The monster shud- 
dered in a convulsive heap on the 
ground. 

I went toward the next one, swing- 
ing the flaring hose in a slow arc as I 
advanced. The creature lunged at me 
and threshed at the burning jet with 
all four of its feelers. But it had been 
exposed to the air for a long time now. 
The ghastly tentacles were dry; with- 
ered and soft. A touch of the fire 
•eared them unmercifully. 

Nevertheless with a swift move it 
■lapped a tentacle squarely down over 
the hose nozzle. The flame was ex- 
tinguished as the flame of a candle is 
pinched out between thumb and fore- 
finger. I retreated. 

"Catch!" came a voice behind me. 

THE Professor swung, his four-foot 
jet my way. I held my hose to 
it, and the flame burst out again. A 
touch at my grisly antagonist's helmet 
— a sharp crack — the welcome rush of 
water over the cream colored grass — 
and another monster was writhing in 
the death throes I 



Keeping close together, the three of 
us faced the massed Quabo# in the 
palace grounds. Again and again the 
fiery weapon of one or the other of us 
was dashed out — to be relighted from 
the nearest hose. Again and again 
loud detonations heralded the collapse 
of more of the invaders. 

But it seemed ac though their flailing 
tentacles were as myriad, as the sf^ra 
they had never seen. It seemed' as 
though their numbers would never ap- 
preciably diminish. We thrust and 
parried till our arms grew numb. And 
still there appeared to be hundreds of 
the Quabos left. 

By order of the Queen three stout 
Zyobites stepped up to us and relieved 
us of our exhausting labor. Gladly 
we handed the hoses to them and went 
to the palace for a much needed rest. 

TWO more, shifts of fighters took 
the flaming jets before the mon- 
sters began the retreat slowly back to- 
ward their tunnel. And here the Pro- 
fessor took > command again. 

"We mustn't let them get away to try 
some new scheme I" he snapped. "Mar- 
tin, take fifty men and beat them back 
to the break in the wall. "Go around a 
side street. They move so slowly that 
you can easily cut off their retreat." 

"There isn't any more hose — " began 
Stanley. 

"There's plenty of it. The Quabos 
brought it with them." The Professor 
turned to me again. "Take metal-saws 
with you. Cut sections of the Quabos 
water-hose and connect them to the 
nearest wall jets'. Run !" 

I ran, with fifty of the men of 
Zyobor close behind me. We dodged 
out the side of' the palace grounds 
least guarded by the Quabos, ducking 
between their ranks like infantry men 
threading through an opposition of 
powerful but slow-moving tanks. Four 
of our number were caught, but the 
rest got through unscathed. 

Down a side street we raced, and 
alonga parallel avenue toward the tun- 
nel. As we went I prayed that all the 



376 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



the tunnel and make rare there are no 
more Quabos lurking there. After that 
we can, fill it in with solid cement 
The Queen can order her fish-servants 
to guard the outer cave and see that no 
food gets in to the^starving monsters 
there. The war is over, gentlemen. 
The Quabos are as good as extermin- 
ated at this moment. And I can get 
back to mj> zoological work. . . ." 

Stanley and I looked at each other. 
We knew each other's thoughts well 
enough. 4 

He could resume his companionship 
with the beautiful Mayis. And I — I 
had Aga. . . . 

WITH the menace of the Quabos 
banished forever, the city of 
Zyobor resumed its normal way. 

The citizens lowered their dead into 
the great well we had cut, with appro- 
priate rites performed by the Queen. 
The daily tasks and pleasures were 
picked up where they had been drop- 
ped. The haunting fear died from |be 
eyes of the: people. 

Shortly afterward, with great cere- 
mony and celebration, I was made King 
of Zyobor, to rule by Aga's side. 
Stanley took Mayis for hia wife. He 
is second to me in power. The Pro- 
fessor is the official wise man of the 
city. 

Life .flows smoothly for ns in this 
pink lighted community. We axe more 
than content with our lot here. Our 
only concern has been the grief that 
must have been occasioned our relatives 
and friends when the Rosa sailed home 
without us. 

Now we have thought of a way in 
which, with luck, we may communicate 
with the upper world. By relays of 
my Queen's fish-servants we believe 
we can send up the Professor's in- 
valuable notes* and this informal ac- 
count of what has happened since we 
left San Francisco that. . . . 

(• Editor"! Note: There waa no trace of any "notes." The yacht, Rosa, wis reported 
lost with all hands in a hurricane off New Zealand. Aboard her were a Professor George 
Berry and the owner, Stanley Browne. There is no record, however, of any passenger by 
the name of Martin Grey. To date no one has taken this document seriously enough to 
consider financing an expedition of investigation to Penguin Deep.) 



Quabos had centered their attention on 
the palace and left their vulnerable 
water-hoses unguarded. 

They had I When we stole up the 
last block toward the break we found 
the nearest Quabo was a hundred yards 
down the street — and working further 
away with every move. 

At once we set to work on. the scores 
of hoses that quivered over the floor 
with each move of the distant mon- 
sters. 

AZYOBITE with the muscles of a 
Hercules swung his ax mightily 
down on a hose. The meta^was soft 
enough to be sheered throjigh by the 
stroke. The cut ends were smashed so 
that they could not be crammed down 
over the tapering jets; but we could 
use our metal-saws for cleaner sever- 
ances at the other ends. 

The giant with the ax stepped from 
hose to hose. Lengths were completed 
with the saws. A man was placed at 
each jet to hold the connections in 
position. Before the Quabos had 
reached us we had rigged six fire-hoses 
and had cut through forty or fifty more 
water-lines. 

The end was certain and not long 
in coming. 

We sprayed the monsters with fire as 
workmen spray fruit trees with insect 
poison. Stanley, the Professor and a 
Zyobite came up in the rear with their 
three hoses. 

Caught between the two forces, the 
beaten fish milled in hopeless confu- 
sion and indecision. 

In half an hour they were all reduced 
to huddles of slimy, wet flesh that dot- 
ted. the pavement from the break back 
to the palace grounds. The invaders 
were completely annihilated — and the 
city of Zyobor was saved I 

"Now," said the Professor triumph- 
antly, "we have only to knock out the 
bottom half of the tunnel wall, empty** 




* T was dusk, on the evening of De- 
cember 7, 1906, when I first en- 
countered Sir John Harmon. At 
the moment of his entrance I was 
standing over the table in my study, a 
lighted match in my cupped hands and 
a pipe between my teeth. The pipe was 
never lit. 

I heard the 
lower door slam 
■hut with a vio- 
lent clatter. The 
■tairs resounded 
to a series of un- 
steady footbeats, and the door of my 
■tudy was flung back. In the opening, 
■taring at me with quiet dignity, stood 
a young, careless fellow, about five feet 
ten in height and decidedly dark of 
complexion. The swagger of his en- 
trance branded him as an adventurer. 



Four live* 


lay helpless before the 


murder 


machine, 


the uncanny device by 


which 


hypnotic 


thought - witci are 


filtered 


through b 


sen's minds to mold the 


m into 




murdering tools I 





J77 



The ghastly pallor of his face, which 
was almost colorless, branded him as a 
man who has found something more 
than mere adventure. 

"Doctor Dale?" he demanded. 
"I am Doctor Dale." 
He closed the door of the room de- 
liberately, ad- 
vancing toward 
me with el o w 
steps. 

"My name is 
John Harmon — 
Sir John Harmon. 
It is unusual, I suppose," he said 
quietly, with a slight shrug, "coming at 
this late hour. I won't keep you long." 

He faced me silently. A single 
glance at those strained features con- 
vinced me of the reason for his coming. 
Only one thing can bring such a fur- 



378 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



tive, restless stare to a man's eyes. 
Only one thing — fear. 

"I've come to you. Dale, because — " 
Sir John's fingers closed heavily over 
the edge of the table — "because I am 
on the verge of going mad." 

"From fear?'- 

"From fear, yes. I suppose it is 
easy to discover. A. single look at 
me .... " 

"A single look at you," I said simply, 
"would convince any man that you are 
deadly afraid of something. Do you 
mind telling me just what it is?" 

HE shook his head slowly. The 
swagger of the poise was gone; 
he stood upright now with a positive 
effort, as if the realization of his posi- 
tion had suddenly surged over bfau. 

"I do not know," he said quietly. 
"It is a childish fear — fear of the<dark, 
you 'may call it. The cause does not 
matter; but if something does not take 
this unholy terror away, the effect will 
be madness." 

\ I watched him in silence for a 
moment, studying the shrunken out- 
line of his face and the unsteady gleam 
of his narrowed eyes. I had seen this 
man before. All London had seen him. 
His face was constantly appearing in 
the sporting pages, a swaggering mem- 
ber of the upper set — a man who had 
been engaged to nearly every beauti- 
ful woman in the. country — who sought, 
adventure in sport and in night life, 
merely for the sake of living at top 
speed. And here he stood before me, 
whitened by fear, the very thing he had 
so deliberately laughed at I 

"Dale," he said slowly, "for the past 
week I have been thinking things that 
I do not want to think and doing 
things completely against my will. 
Some outside power — God knows what 
it is — is controlling my very exist- 
ence." 

He stared at me, and leaned closer 
across the table. 

"Last night, some time before mid- . 
night," he told me, "I was sitting alone 
in my den. Alone, mind you — not a 



soul was in the house with me. I was 
reading a novel; and suddenly, as if a 
living presence had stood in the room 
and commanded me, I was. forced to 
put the book down. I fought against 
it, fought to remain in tha^ room and 
go on reading. And I failed." 

"Failed?" My^reply was a single 
word of wonder. 

"T LEFT my home; because I could 
X not help myself. Have you ever, 
been under hypnotism. Dale? Yes? 
Well, the thing that ' gripped me was 
something similar — except that no liv- 
ing person came near me in order to 
work his hypnotic spell. I went alone, 
the whole way. Through back streets, 
alleys, filthy dooryards — never once 
striking a main thoroughfare — until I 
had crossed the entire citytnd reached 
the west side of the square. And there, 
before a big gray town-house, I was 
allowed to stop my mad wandering. 
The power, whatever it was, broke. I 
— well, I went home." 

Sir John got to his feet with an ef- 
fort, and stood over me. 

"Dale," he whispered hoarsely, "what 
was it ?" 

"You were conscious of every de- 
tail?" I asked. "Conscious of the, time, 
of the locality you went to? You are 
sure it was not some fantastic dream?" 

"Dream I Is it a dream to have some 
damnable force move me about like a 
mechanical robot?" 

"But. . v /You can think of no 
explanation?" I was a bit skeptical 
of his story. 

He turned on me savagely. 

"I have no explanation, Doctor," he 
said curtly. "I came to you for the 
explanation. And while you are think- 
ing over my case during the next few 
hours, perhaps you can explain this: 
when I stood before that gray mansion 
on After Street, alone in the dark, 
there was murder in my heart. I should 
have killed the man who lived in that 
house, had I not been suddenly re- 
leased from the force that was driving 
me forward!" 



..THE MURDER MACHINE 



379 



Sir John turned from me in bitter- 
ness. Without offering any ^ word of 
departure, he pulled open the door and 
stepped across the sill. The' door 
closed, and I was alone. 

THAT was my introduction to Sir 
John Harmon. I offer it in de- 
tail because it was the first of a star- 
tling series of events that led to the 
most terrible case of my career. In 
my records I have labeled 'the entire 
case "The Affair of the Death 
Machine." 

Twelve hours after Sir John's de- 
parture — which will bring the time 
to the morning of December S — the 
headlines of the Daily Mail stared up 
at die from the table. They were 
black and heavy^those headlines, and 
horribly significant:* 'They were: 

FRANKLIN WHITE Jr. FOUND 

MURDERED 
Midnight Marauder Strangles 
Young Society Man in West End 
Mansion 

I turned the paper hurriedly, and 
read: 

Between the hours of one and 
two o'clock this morning, an un- 
known murderer entered the home 
of Franklin White, Jr., well known ~ 
West End sportsman, and escaped, 
leaving behind his^ strangled vic- 
tim. 

Young White, who is a favorite 
in London upper circles, was dis- 
covered in his bed this morning, 
where he had evidently lain dead 
for many hours. Police are seek- 
ing a motive for the crime, which 
may have its origin in the fact that 
White only recently announced his 
engagement to Margot Vemee, 
young and exceedingly pretty 
French debutante. 

Police say that the murderer 
was evidently an 'amateur, and that 
he made no attempt to cover his 
crime. Inspector Thomas Drake of 
Scotland Yard has the case. 



There was more, much more. Young 
White had evidently been a decided 
favorite, and the murder had been so 
unexpected, so deliberate, that the Mail 
N reporter had made the most of his op- 
portunity for a story. But aside from 
what I have reprinted, there was only 
a single short paragraph which claimed 
my attention. It was this: 

The White home is not a dif- 
ficult one to enter. It is a huge 
gray town-house, situated just off 
the square, in After Street. The 
murderer entered by a low French 
window, leaving it open. 

I have copied the words exactly as 
they were printed. The item does not 
call for any comment. 



BUT I had hardly 
paper before she 



dropped the 
stood before 
me. I say "she" — it was Margot Ver- 
nee, of course — because for some pecu- 
liar reason I had Expected her. She 
stood quietly before me, her cameo 
face, set in the black of mourning, star- 
ing straight into mine. 

"You know why I have come?" she 
said quickly. 

I glanced at the paper on the table 
before me, and nodded. Her eyes fol- 
lowed my glance. 

"That is only part of it. Doctor," she 
said.' "I was in love with Franklin — 
very much — but I have come to you 
for something more. Because "you are 
a famous psychologist, and can help 
me." 

She sat down quietly, leaning for- 
ward so that her arms rested on the 
table. Her face was white, almost as 
white as the face of that young adven- 
turer who had come to me on the previ- 
ous evening. And when she spoke, her 
voice was hardly more than a whisper. 

"Doctor, for many days now I have 
been under some strange power. Some- 
thing frightful, that compels me to 
think and act against my will." 

She glanced at me suddenly, as if to 
note the effect of her words. Then: 

"I was engaged to Franklin for more 



380" 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



than a month. Doctor; yet for a week 
now I have been commanded — com- 
manded — by some awful fprce, to re- 
turn to— to a man who knew me more 
than two years ago. I can't explain it. 
I did not love this man; I hated him 
bitterly. Now comes this mad desire, 
this' hungering, to go to him. And 
last night — "" 

M ARGOT VERNEE hestitated 
suddenly. She stared at me 
searchingly. Then, with renewed cour- 
age, she continued. 

"Last night, Doctor, I was alone. I 
had retired for the night, and it was 
late, nearly three o'clock. And then I 
was strangely commanded, by this aw- 
ful power that has* suddenly taken pos- 
session of my soul, to go out. I tried 
to restrain myself, and in the end I 
found myself walking through the 
square. I went straight to Franklin 
White's home. When I reached there, 
it was half past three — I could hear Big 
Ben. I went in — through the wide 
French window at the side of the 
house. I went straight to Franklin's 
room — because / could not prevent my- 
self from going." 

A sob came from M argot's lips. She 
had half risen from her chair, and was 
holding herself together with a brave 
effort. I went to her .side and stood 
over her. And she, with a half crazed 
laugh, stared up at me. 

"He was dead when I saw him!" she 
cried. "Dead! Murdered I That in- 
fernal force, whatever it was, had made 
me go straight to my lover's side, to 
see him lying there, with those cruel 
finger marks on his throat — dead, I 
tell you, I — oh, it is horrible!" 
She turned suddenly. 
"When I saw him," she said bitterly, 
"the sight of him — and the sight of 
those marks — broke the spell that held 
me. I crept from the house as if I 
had killed him. They — they will prbb- 
ably find out that I was there, and they 
will accuse me of the murder. It does 
not matter. But this power — this 
awful thing that has been controlling 



me — is> there mi way to fight it?" 

I noddled heavily. The memory of 
that unfortunate lejlow who had come 
to me with the same complaint was still 
holding me. I was prepared to wash 
my hands of the whole horrible affair. 
It was clearly not a medical case, clear- 
ly out of my realm. 

"There is a way to fight it," I said 
quietly. "I am a doctor, not a master 
of hypnotism, or a man who can dis- 
cover the reasons behind that hyp- 
notism. But London has its Scotland 
Yard, and Scotland Yard has a man 
who is one of my greatest com- 
rades. . . ." 

She nodded her surrender. As I 
stepped to the telephone, I heard her 
murmur, in a weary, troubled voice: 

"Hypnotism? It is not that. God 
knows what it is. But it has always 
happened when I have been alone. One 
cannot hypnotise through dis- 
tance. . . ." 

AND so, with Margot Venice's con- 
sent, I sought the aid of Inspec- 
tor Thomas Drake, of Scotland Yard. 
In half an hour Drake stood beside 
me, in the quiet of my study. When 
he had heard M argot's story, he asked a 
single significant question. It was 
this: 

"You say you have a desire to go 
back to a man who was once intimate 
with you. Who is he?"' 

Margot looked at him dully. 

"It is Michael Strange," she said 
slowly. "Michael Strange, of Paris. A 
student of science." , 

Drake nodded. Without further 
questioning, he dismissed'my patient; 
and when she had gone, he turned to 
me. 

"She did not murder her sweetheart, 
Dale" he said. "That is evident. Have 
you any idea who did?" 

And so I told him of that other 
young man. Sir John Harmon, who had 
come to me the i night before. When 
I had finished, Drake stared at me 
— stared through me — and suddenly 
turned on hit heel. 



THE MURDER MACHINE 



381 



"I shall be back, Dale," he said curt- 
ly. "Wait for me I" 

WAIT for him I Well, that was 
Drake's peculiar way of going 
about things. Impetuous, sudden — 
until he faced some crisis. Then, in 
the face of danger, he became a cold, 
indifferent officer of Scotland Yard. 

And so I waited. During the twenty- 
four hours that elapsed before Drake 
returned to my study, I did my best to 
diagnose the case before me. First, 
Sir John Harmon — his visit to the 
home of Franklin White. Then— the 
deliberate murder. And, finally, young 
Margot Vemee, and her confession^ It 
was like the revolving whirl of a pin- 
wheel, this series of events : continuous 
and mystifying, but without beginning 
or end. Surely, somewhere in the pro- 
cession of horrors, there would be a 
loose end to cling to. Some/loose end 
that would eventually unravel the pin- 
wheel I ^N-/ 

It was plainly not a medical affair, 
or at least only remotely so. The thing 
was in proper handB, then, with Drake 
following it through. And I had only 
to wait for his return. 

He came at last, and closed the door 
of the room behind him. He stood 
over me with something of a swagger. 

"Dale, I have been looking into the 
records of this Michael Strange," he 
said quietly. "They are interesting, 
those records. They go back some ten 
years, when this fellow Strange was be- 
ginning his study of science. And 
now Michael Strange is one of the 
greatest authorities in Paris on the sub- 
ject of mental telegraphy. He has 
gone into the study of human thought 
with the same thoroughness that other 
scientists go into the subject of radio 
telegraphy. He has written several 
books on the subject." 

Drake pulled a tiny black volume 
from the pocket of his coat and drop- 
ped it on the table before me. With/ 
one hand he opened it to a place which 
he had previously marked in pencil. 
"Read it," he said significantly. 



I LOOKED at him in wonder, and 
then did as he ordered. What I 
read was this:- 

"Mental telegraphy is a science, not 
a myth. It is a very real fact, a very 
real power which can be developed 
only by careful research. To most 
people it is merely a curiosity. They 
sit, for instance, in a crowded room at 
some uninteresting lecture, and stare 
.continualy at the back of some un- 
suspecting companion until that com- 
panion, by the power of suggestion, 
turns suddenly around. Or they think 
heavily of a certain person nearby, per- 
haps commanding him mentally to hum 
a certain popular tune, until the vic- 
tim, by the power of their will, sud- 
denly fulfills the order. To such per- 
sons, the science of mental telegraphy 
is merely an amusement. 

"And so it will be, until science has 
brought it to such a perfection that 
these waves of though can be broadcast 
— that they can be transmitted through 
the ether precisely aa^ radio waves are 
transmitted. 1 In other words, mental 
telegraphy is at present merely a mild 
form of hypnotism. Until it has been 
developed so that those hypnotic 
powers can be directed through space, 
and directed accurately to those in- 
dividuals to whom they are intended, 
this science will have no significance. 
It remains for scientists of to-day to 
bring about that development." 

I closed the book. When I looked 
up, Drake was watching me intently, 
as if expecting me to say something. 

"Drake," I said Blowly, more to my- 
self than to him, "the pinwheel is be- 
ginning to. unravel. We have found 
the beginning thread. Perhaps, if we 
follow that thread. . . ." 
Drake smiled. 

"If you'll pick up your hat and coat, 
Dale," he interrupted, "I think we have 
an appointment. This Michael 
Strange, whose book you have just en- 
joyed so immensely, is now residing on 
a certain quiet little side street about 
three miles from the square, in Lon- 
don I" 



382 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



1 FOLLOWED Drake in silence, 
until we had left Cheney Lane in 
the gloom behind us. At the entrance 
to the square my companion called a 
cab ; and from there on we rode slowly, 
through a heavy darkness which was 
blanketed by a wet, penetrating fog. 
The cabby, evidently one who knew my 
companion by sight (and what London 
cabby does not know his Scotland Yard 
men I) chose a route that twisted 
through gloomy, uninhabited side 
streets, seldom winding into the main 
routes of traffic 

As for Drake, he sank back in the 
uncomfortable seat and made '-no at- 
tempt at conversation. For the entire 
first part of our journey he said noth- 
ing. Not until we had reached a black, 
unlighted section of the city did he 
turn to me. 

"Dale," he said at length, "have you 
ever hunted tiger?" 
I looked at him and laughed. 
"Why?" I replied. "Do you expect 
this hunt of ours will be something of 
a blind chase?* ' 

"It will be a blind chase, no doubt of 
it," he said. "And when we have fol- 
lowed the trail to its end, J imagine 
we shall find something very like a 
tiger to deal with. I have looked 
rather deeply into Michael Strangt's 
life, and unearthed a bit of the man's 
character. He has twice been accused 
of murder — murder by hypnotism-'- 
and has twice cleared himself by 
throwing scientific explanations at the 
police. That is the nature of his en- 
tire history for the past ten years." 

1 NODDED, without replying. As 
Drake turned away from me again, 
our cab poked its laboring nose into a 
narrowing, gloomy street. I had a 
glimpse of a single unsteady street 
lamp on the comer, and a dim sign, 
"Mate Lane." And then we were drag- 
ging along the curb. The cab stopped 
with a groan. 

I had stepped down and was stand- 
ing by the cab door when suddenly, 
from the darkness in front of me, a 



strange figure advanced to ray side. 
He glanced at me intently; then, see- 
ing that I was evidently not the man 
he sought, he turned to Drake. I 
heard a whispered greeting and an 
undertone of conversation. Then, 
quietly, Drake stepped toward me. 

"Dale," he said, "I thought it best 
that I should not show myself here to- 
night. No, there is no time for ex- 
planation now; you will understand- 
later. Perhaps" — significantly— 
"sooner than you anticipate. Inspec- 
tor Hartnett will go through the rest 
of this pantomime with you." 

I shook hands with Drakes' man, still 
rather bewildered at the sudden sub- 
stitution. Then, before I was aware of 
it, Drake had vanished and the cab was 
gone. We were alone, Hartnett and I, 
in Mate Lane. 

The home of Michael Strange — num- 
ber seven — was hardly inviting. No 
light was in evidence. The big house 
stood like a huge, unadorned vault set 
back from the street, some distance 
from its adjoining buildings. The 
heavy steps echoed to our footheats as 
we mounted them in the darkness; and 
the sound Of the bell, as Hartnett 
pressed it came sharply to us from the 
silence of the interior. 

TX7E stood there, waiting. In the 
VV short interval before the door 
opened, Hartnett glanced at his watch 
(it was nearly ten o'clock), and said to 
me: 

"I imagine. Doctor, we shall meet a 
blank wall. Let me do the talking, 
please." 

That was alL In another moment 
^he big door was pulled slowly open 
from the inside, and in the entrance, 
glaring out at us, stood the man we had 
come to see. It is not hard to remem- 
ber that first impression of Mfebael 
Strange. He was a huge man, /gaunt 
and haggard, moulded with the 
hunched shoulders and heavy arms of 
a gorilla. His face seemed to be un- 
consciously twisted into a snarL His 
greeting, which came only after he had 



THE MURDER MACHINE 



■tared at us intently for nearly a min- 
ute, was curt and rasping. 

"Well, gentlemen? What is it?" 

"I should like a word with Dr., 
Michael Strange," said my companion 
quietly. 

"I am Michael Strange." 

"And I," replied Hartnett, with a 
suggestion of a smile, "am Raoul Hart- 
nett, from Scotland Yard." 

I did not see any sign of emotion 
on Strange's face. He stepped back 
in silence to allow us to enter. Then 
closing the the big door after us, he 
led the way along a carpeted hall to a 
■mall, ill-lighted room just beyond. 
Here he motioned us to be seated, he 
himself standing upright beside the 
table, facing us. 

"From Scotland Yard," he said, and 
the tone was heavy with dull sarcasm. 
"I am at your service, Mr. Hartnett." 

AND now, for the first time, I won- 
dered just why Drake had in- 
sisted on my coming here to this 
gloomy house in Mate Lane. Why he 
had bo deliberately arranged a substi- 
tute so that Michael Strange should not 
come face to face with him directly. 
Evidently Hartnett had been carefully 
instructed as to his course of action — 
but why this seemingly unnecessary 
caution on Drake's part? And now, 
after we had gained admission, what 
excuse would Hartnett offer for the in- 
trusion? Surely he would not follow 
the bull-headed role of a common 
policeman I 

There was no anger, no attempt at 
dramatics, in Hartnetts' voice. He 
looked quietly up at our host. 

"Dr. Strange," he said at length, "I 
have come to you for your assistance. 
Last night, some time after midnight, 
Franklin White was strangled to death. 
He was murdered, according to sub- 
stantial evidence, by the girl he was 
going to marry — Margot Vemee. I 
come to you because you know this 
girl rather well, and can perhaps help 
Scotland Yard in finding her motive 
for killing White." 



-J 



383 



Michael Strange said nothing. He 
stood there, scowling down at my com- 
panion in silence. And I, too, I must 
admit, turned upon Hartnett with a 
stare of bewilderment. His accusa- 
tion of Margot had brought a sense of 
horror to me. I had expected almost 
anything from him, even to a mad ac- . 
cusation of Strange himself. But I 
had hardly foreseen this cold blooded 
declaration. 

"You understand. Doctor," Hartnett 
went on, in that same ironical drawl, 
"that we do not believe Margot Vemee 
did this thing herself. She had a com- 
panion, undoubtedly, one who accom- 
panied her to the house on After 
Street, and assisted her in the crime. 
Who that companion was, we are not 
sure; but there is decidedly a ease of 
suspicion against a certain young Lon- 
don sportsman. This fellow is known 
to have prowled about the White man- 
sion both on the night of the murder 
and the night before." 

HARTNETT glanced up casually. 
Strange's face was a total mask. 
When he nodded, the nod was the most 
even and mechanical thing I have ever 
seen. Certainly this man could control, 
his emotions I 

"Naturally, Doctor," Hartnett said, 
"we have gone rather deeply into the 
past life of the lady in question. Your 
name appears, of course, in a rather 
unimportant interval when Margot 
Vemee resided in Paris. And so we 
come to you in the hope that you can 
perhaps give us some slight bit of in- 
formation — something that seems in- 
significant, perhaps, to you, but which 
may put us on the right track." 

It was a careful speech. Even as 
Hartnett spoke it, I could have sworn 
that the words were Drake's, and had 
been memorized. But Michael Strange 
merely stepped back 'to the table and 
faced us without a word. He was prob- 
ably, during that brief interlude, at- 
tempting to realize his position, and to 
discover just how much Raoul Hart- 
nett actually knew. 



S84 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



And then, after his interim of sil- 
»cnce. he came forward sullenly and 
>stood over my comrade. 

"I will tell you this much, Mr. Hart- 
nctt, of Scotland Yard," he said bit- 
terly: "My relations with Margot 
Vemee are 'riot an open book to be 
passed through the clumsy fingers of 
ignorant police officers. As to this 
murder, I know nothing. At the time 
of it, I was seated in this room in com- 
pany with a distinguished group of 
scientific friends. I will tell you, on 
authority, that Margot did not murder 
her lover. Why? Because she loved 
him t" 

THE last words were heavy with 
bitterness. Before they had 
died into silence, Michael Strange had 
opened the door of his study. 

"If you please, gentlemen," he said 
quietly. 

Hartnett got to his feet. For an in- 
stant he stood facing the gorilla-like 
form of our host ; then he stepped over 
the sill, without a word. * We passed 
down the un lighted corridor in silence, 
while Strange stood in the door of his 
study, watching us. I could not help 
but feel, as we left that gloomy house, 
that Strange had suddenly focused his 
entire attention upon me, and had 
ignored my companion. I could feel 
'those eyes upon me, and feel the force 
of the will behind them. A decided 
feeling of uneasiness crept over me, 
and I shuddered. 

A moment later the big outer door 
had closed shut after us, and we were 
alone in Mate Lane. Alone, that is, 
until a third figure joined us in the 
shadows, and Drake's hand closed over 
my arm. 

"Capital, Dale," he said triumphant- 
ly. "For half an hour you entertained 
him, you and Hartnett. And for half 
an hour I've had the unlimited free- 
dom of his inner rooms, with the aid 
of an unlocked window on the lower 
floor. Those inner rooms, gentlemen, 
are significant — very T 

As we -walked the length of Mate 



Lane, the gaunt, sinister home of 
Michael Strange became an indistinct 
outline in the pitch behind us. Drake 
said nothing more on the return trip, 
until we had nearly reached my rooms. 
Then he turned to me with a smile. 

"We are one up on our friend, Dale," 
he said. "He does not know, just now, 
which is the bigger fool — you or Hart- 
nett here. However, I imagine Hart- 
nett will be the victim of some very 
unusual events before many hours have 
passed I" 

That was all. At least, all of signi- 
ficance. I left the two Scotland Yard 
men at the opening of Cheney Lane, 
and continued alone to my rooms. I 
opened the door and let myself in 
quietly. And there some few hours 
later, began the last and most horrible 
phase of the case of the murder 
machine. 

IT began— or to be more accurate, I 
began to react' to it — at three 
o'clock in the morning. I was alone, 
and the rooms were dark. For hours 
I had sat quietly by the table, consider- 
ing the significant events of the past 
few days. Sleep was impossible With 
so many unanswered questions star- 
ing into me, and so I sat there won? 
dering. \ 
Did Drake actually believe that 
Margot Venice's simple story had been 
a ruse — that she had in truth killeff 
her lover an that midnight intrusion of 
his home? Did he believe that 
Michae) Strange knew of that intru- 
sion — that he had possibly planned it 
himself, and aided her, in order that 
Margot might be free to return to him? 
Did Strange know of that other in- 
trusion, and of the uncanny power 
which had driven Sir John Harmon, 
and supposedly driven Margot, to that 
house on After Street? 

Those were the questions that still 
remained without answers; and it was 
over those questions that I pondered, 
while my surroundings became darker 
and more silent as the hour became 
more advanced. I heard the clock 



THE MURDER MACHINE 



385 



ftrike three, and heard the answering 
drone o^Big Ben from the square. 

AND then it began. At first it was 
little more than a sense of ner- 
vousness. Before I had been content to 
tit in my chair and doze. Now, in spite 
of myself, I found myself pacing the 
floor, back and forth like a caged ani- 
mal. I could have sworn, at the time, 
that some sinister presence had found 
entrance to my room. Yet the room 
was empty. And I could have sworn, 
too, that some silent power of will was 
commanding me, with undeniable 
force, to go out— out into the darkness 
of Cheney Lane. 

I fought it bitterly. I laughed at it, 
yet even through my laugh came the 
memory of Sir John Harmon and Mar- 
got, and what they had told me. And 
then, unable to resist that unspoken 
demand, I seized my hat and coat and 
went out. 

Cheney Lane was deserted, utterly 
■till. At the end of it, the street lamp 
glowed dully, throwing a patch of 
ghastly light over the side of the ad- 
joining building. I hurried through 
the shadows, and as I walked, a single 
idea had possession of me. I must 
hurry, I thought, with all possible 
■peed, to that grim house in Mate 
Lane — number seven. 

Where that deliberate desire came 
from I did not know. I did not stop 
to reason. Something had commanded 
me to go at once to Michael Strange's 
home. And though I stopped more 
than once, deliberately turning in my 
tracks, inevitably I was forced to re- 
trace my steps and continue. 

I REMEMBER passing through the 
square, and prowling through the 
unlightened side streets that lay be- 
yond. Three miles separated Cheney 
Line from Mate Lane, and I had been 
over the route only once before, in a 
cab. Yet I followed that route with- 
out a single false turn, followed it in- 
stinctively. At every intersecting 
•treet I was dragged in a certain direc- 



tion, and not once was I allowed to 
hesitate. It was as though some un- 
seen demon perched on my shoulders, 
as the demon of the sea rode Sinbad, 
and pointed out the way. 

Only one disturbing thing occured 
on that night journey through London. 
I had turned into a narrow street hard- 
ly more than a quarter mile from my 
destination; and before me, in the 
shadows, I made out the form of a 
shuffling old man. And here, as I 
watched him, I was conscious of a new, 
mad desire. I crept upon him stealth- 
ily, without a sound. My hands were 
outstretched, clutching, for bis throat. 
At that moment I should have killed 
him I 

I cannot explain it. During that 
brief interval 1 was a murderer at 
heart. I wanted to kill. And now 
that I remember it, the desire had been 
pregnant in me ever since the lights of 
Cheney Lane had died behind me. 'All 
the time that I prowled through those 
black streets, murder lurked in my 
heart. I should have killed the first 
man who crossed my path. 

But I did not kill him. Thank God, 
as my fingers twisted toward the back 
of his throat, that mad desire suddenly 
left me. I stood still, while the old 
fellow, still unsuspecting, shuffled 
away into the darkness. Then, drop- 
ping my hands with a sob of helpless- 
ness, I went forward again. 

AND so I reached Mate Lane, and 
the huge gray house that await- 
ed me. This time, as I mounted the 
stone steps, the old house seemed even 
more repulsive and horrible. I dread- 
ed to see that door open, but I could 
not retreat. 

I dropped the knocker heavily. A 
moment passed ; and then, precisely as 
before, the huge door swung inward. 
Michael Strange stood before me. 

He did not speak. Perhaps, if he 
had spoken, that fiendish spell would 
have been broken, and I should have 
returned, even then, to my own peace- 
ful little rooms in Cheney Lane. No— 



386 

be merely held the door for me to en- 
ter, and as I passed him he stood there, 
watching me with a significant smile. 

Straight to that familiar room at the 
end of the hall I went, with Strange 
behind me. When we had entered, he 
closed the door cautiously. For a 
moment he faced me without speaking. 

"Yon came very close to committing 
a murder on your way here, did you 
not, Dale?" 

I stared at him. How, in Cod's 
name, could this man read my thoughts 
so completely? t 

"You would have completed the 
murder," he said softly, "had I wished 
it \ did not wish it !" 

I did not answer. There was no re- 
ply to such a mad declaration. As for 
my companion, he watched me for an 
instant and then laughed. He was not 
mad. I am doctor enough to know that. 

But the laugh was not long in dura- 
tion- He stepped forward suddenly 
and took my arm in a steel grip, drag- 
ging me, toward the half hidden door 
at the farther end of the rootn. 

"I shall not keep you long, Dale," he 
said harshly. "I could have killed you 
—could have made you kill yourself, 
and in fact, I intended to do so— but 
after all, you are merely a poor 
■tumbling fool who has meddled in 
things too deep for you." 

HE pulled open the door and 
pushed me forward. The room 
was dark, and not until he bad closed - 
the door again and switched on a dim 
light, could I see its contents. 

Even then I saw nothing. At least, 
nothing of importance to an unscien- 
tific mind. There was a low table 
against the wall, with a profusion of 
tiny wires emanating from it. I was 
aware that a cup shaped microphone — 
or something very similar — hung over 
the table, about on a level with my 
eyes, had I been sitting in the chair. 
Beyond that I saw nothing, until 
Strange had moved forward and drawn 
aside a curtain that hung beside the 
table. 



ASTOUNDING ^TORIES 



"I made you come here to-night, 
Dale," he murmured, "because I was I 
bit afraid of you. Your comrade, 
Hartnett, was an ignorant, police of- 
ficer. He has not the intellect to con- 
nect the series of events of the past 
day or two, and so I did not trouble 
myself with him, But you are an edu- 
cated man. You have made no demon- 
strations of your ability in the field of 
science, but — " 

He stopped speaking abruptly. 
From the room behind .us came the 
sound of a warning bell. Strange 
turned quickly and went to the door. 

"You will wait here. Doctor," he 
said. "I have another caller to-night 
Another one who came the same way 
as youl" 

He vanished. For a short interlude 
I was alone, with that peculiar radio- 
like apparatus before me. It was, for 
all the world, like a miniature control 
room in some small broadcasting sta- 
tion. Except for the odd shape of the 
microphone, if it was such I could de- 
tect no radical difference in equipment 

HOWEVER, I had little time for 
conjecture. A patter of foot- 
steps interrupted me from the next 
room, and a frightened, feminine voice 
broke the stillness of the outer study. 
Even before the owner of that voice 
stepped in to my presence, I knew tier. 

And when she came, with white, 
fearful face and trembling body, I 
could not withhold a shudder of ap- 
prehension. It was the young woman 
who had come to my office — M argot 
Vemee. Evidently, at last, she had 
yielded to the horrible impulse that 
had drawn her back to Michael 
Strange, an impulse which, I now un- 
derstood, had originated from the man 
himself. 

He pressed her forward. There was 
nothing tender in his touch; it was 
cruel and triumphant. 

"So you have succeeded — at last," 
I said bitterly. 

He turned to me with a sneer. 

"I have brought her here, yes," he re- 



THE MURDER MACHINE 



387 



plied. "And now that she has come, 
the shall hear what I have to tell you. 
ft will perhaps give her a respect for 
me, and this time she will not have 
the power to turn me away." 

He pointed to the table, to the ap- 
paratus that lay there. 

"I'm telling you this. Dale," he said, 
lecause it gives me pleasure to do so. 
Tou are enough of a scientist to ap- 
preciate and understand it. . And if, 
when I have finished, I have told you 
too much, there is a very easy way to 
keep your tongue silent. You have 
heard of hypnotism. Dale? You have 
beard also of radio? Have you ever, 
thought of combining the two?" 

HE faced me directly. I made no 
effort to reply. 
"Radio," he said quietly, "rs broad- 
cast by means of sound waves. That 
much you know. But hypnotism too, 
can be transmitted through distance, if 
in instrument delicate enough to trans- 
mit thought waves can be invented. 
For twenty years I have worked on 
that instrument, and for twenty years 
I have studied hypnotism. You under- 
stand, of course, that this instrument 
is worthless unless it is operated by a 
master mind. Thought waves'are use- 
less; they will not control the actions 
of even a cat. But hypnotic waves or 
concentrated thought waves — will con- 
trol the world." 

There was no denying him. He 
faced me with the savage triumph of 
t wild beast. He was glorying in his 
power, and in my amazement. 

"I wanted Franklin White to die I" 
he cried. "It was I who murdered him. 
Why? Because he was about to take 
the girl I desired. Is that not reason 
enough for murder? And so I killed 
him. It was not Margot Vernee who 
strangled her lover; it was a complete 
stranger, a London sportsman, who had 
so reason for committing the murder, 
except that I wished him to I 

"He died on the night of December 
seventh, murdered by Sir John Har- 
mon, the sportsman. Why? Because, 



of all London, Sir John would be the 
last man to be suspected. I have a 
keen appreciation for the irony of fate I 
White would havaLdied the night be- 
fore, Dale, except that I lacked the 
courage to kill him. His murderer was 
standing, under my power, outside his 
very house — and then I suddenly 
thought it best that I should have an 
alibi. Your Scotland Yard is clever, 
and it was best that I have protection. 
And so, on the following night, I sent 
Sir John to the house once again. 
This time, While I sat here and con- 
trolled the actions of my puppet, a 
group of menlsat here with me. They 
believed that I was experimenting with 
a new type of radio receiver I* 

MICHAEL STRANGE laughed, 
laughed harshly, in utter tri- 
umph, as a cat laughs at the antics of 
his mouse victims. 

"When that murder was done," he 
said, "I sent Margot to the scene, so 
that she might see her lover strangled, 
dead. I repeat, Dale, that I enjoy the 
irony of fate, especially when I can 
control it. And as for you — I brought 
you here to-night merely so that you 
would realize the intensity of the 
powers that control you. When you 
leave here, you will be unharmed — 
but after the exhibition I shall give 
you, I am sure that you will make no 
further attempt to interfere with things 
out of your realm of understanding." 

I heard a sob from Margot. She had 
retreated to the door, and clung there. 
For myself, I did not move. Strange's 
recital had revealed to me the horrible 
lust that gripped him, and now I 
watched him in fascination. He would 
not harm the girl; that much I was 
sure of. In his distorted fashion he 
loved her. In his crazed, murderous 
way he would attempt to win her love, 
even though she had once scorned him. 

1SAW him step toward the table. 
Saw him drop heavily into the 
chair, and stare directly into that mi- 
crophonic thing that hung before his 



388 



ASTOUNDING STORIES { 



eye a. As he stared, he spoke to me. 

"Science, in its intricate forms, is 
probably above the mind of a common 
medical man, Dale," he said. "It would 
.be useless to explain to you how my 
thoughts — and my will — can be trans- 
mitted through space. Perhaps you have 
'sat in a theater and stared at a certain 
person until that person turned to face 
you. You have? Then you will per- 
haps understand how I can control the 
minds of any human creature within 
the radius of my power. You see, Dale, 
this intricate little machine gives me 
the power to transform London into a 
city of stark .murder. I could bring 
about such/ a horrible wave of crime 
that Scotland Yard would be scorned 
from one end of the world to the other. 
I could make every man murder his 
neighbor, until the streets of the. city 
were running with blood I" 

Strange turned quietly to look at me. 
He spoke deliberately. 

"And now for the little exhibition 
of which I spoke, Dale," he murmured. 
"Your detective friend, Hartnett, has 
been under my power for the past three 
hours. You see, it was safer to control 
his movements, arid be sure of him. And 
now, to be doubly sure of him, perhaps 
you would like to see him kill him- 
self!" 

I stepped forward with a sudden cry. 
Strange said nothing; his eyes merely 
burned into mine. Once again I felt 
that strange, all-powerful control forc- 
ing me back. I retreated, step by step, 
until the wall stopped me. Yet even 
as I retreated, a childish hope filled 
me. How could Strange, working his 
terrible murder machine, concentrate 
his power on any individual, when the 
whole of London lay before him? 

HE answered my question. He must 
have read it as it came over me. 
"Have you ever been in a crowd. 
Dale, and watched a certain individual 
intently, until that particular individu- 
al turned to look at you? The rest of 
the crowd pays no attention, of course, 
bat that one man. And now we shall 



make that one man murder himself f* 

Strange turned slowly. I saw hit 
fingers creep along the rim of the table, 
touching certain wires that came to- 
gether there. I heard a dull, droning 
hum fill the room, and, over it, 
Strange's penetrating voice. 

"When i am finished, Dale, I shall 
probably kill you. I brought you here 
merely to frighten you, but I believe 
I have told you too much." 

With that new horror upon me, I 
saw my captor's lips move slowly. . . . 

And then, from the shadows at the 
other end of the small room, came a 
low, unemotional voice. 

"Before you begin, Strange — " 

Michael Strange whipped about in 
his. chair like a tiger. His hand dropped 
to his pocket, so swiftly that my eyes 
did not follow it. And as it dropped, a 
single staccato shot split the darks en 
of the room. The scientist slumped for- 
ward in his chair. 

The dull, whirring sound of that 
hellish machine had stopped abruptly, 
cut short by the sudden weight of 
Strange's lunging body as he fell upon 
it. I saw the livid, fiery snake of white 
light twist suddenly upward through 
that coil of wires; end in another mo- 
ment the entire apparatus shattered by 
a blinding crash of flame. 

AFTER that I turned away. Whether 
the bullet killed Strange or not, 
I do not know; but the sight of hit 
charred face, hanging over that table 
of destruction, told/its own story. 

It was Inspector Drake who came 
across the room toward me, and took 
my arm. The smoking revolver still 
lay in his hand, and as' he led me into 
the adjoining room, I saw that M argot 
had already found refuge there. 

"You see now. Dale," Drake said 
quietly, "why I let .Hartnett go with 
you before? If Strange had suspected 
me, I should have been merely another 
victim. As for Hartnett, he has been 
under constant guard down at head- 
quarters. He's safe. They've kept him 
there, at my instructions, in spite of 



THE MURDER MACHINE 



389 



■H his terrific efforts to leave them." 

I was listening to my companion in 
admiration. Even then I did not quite 
understand. 

"I was wrong in just one thing. Dale. 
I left you alone, without protection. 
I believed ''Strange would ignore yon, 
because, after all, you are not a Scot- 
land Yard man. Thank God I had the 
sense to follow M argot — to trail her 
here — and get here soon enough." 

AND so ended the horrible series 
of events that began with Sir 
John Harmon's chance visit to my 



study. As for Harmon, he was later 
cleared of all guilt, upon the charred 
evidence in Michae]ri6trange's house in 
Mate Lane. The girl, I believe, has left 
London, where she can be as far as 
possible from memories that are all too 
terrible. 

As for me, I am back once again in 
my quiet rooms in Cheney Lane, where 
the routine of common medical prac- 
tice has wiped out many of those vivid 
honors. In time, I believe, I shall for- 
get, unless Inspector Drake, of Scotland 
Yard, insists upon bringing the affair 
up again I 



IN THE NEXT ISSUE 
THE INVISIBLE DEATH 

A Thrilling Novelet of an Invisible 
Empire Within the United States 

By Victor Rousseau 

stolen"~brains 

Another Absorbing Dr. Bird Story 

By Capt. S. P. Meek 

PRISONERS ONTHE ELECTRON 

An Exciting Story of a Young 
Man Marooned on an Electron 

By Robert H. Leitfred 

JETTA OF THE" LOWLANDS 

Part Two of the Current Novel 

By Ray Cummings 
— AND OTHER?! 



/ 

We had brew captured by a race of gigantic beetles. 



The Attack from Space 

A SEQUEL TO "BEYOND THE HEAVISIDE LAYER" 

By Captain S. P. Meek 



"No one knows what un revealed bor- 
rows space holds and the world will 
never rest entirely easy until the slow 
process of time again heale the pro- 
tective layer." — From "Beyond the 
Heaviside Layer." 

OVER a year has passed since 
I wrote those lines. When 
they were written the hole 
which Jim Carpenter had 
burned with his battery of infra-red 
lamps through 
the heaviside 
layer, that hollow 
sphere of invisi- 
ble semi-plastic 




organic matter which encloses the 
world as a nutshell does a kernel, was 
gradually filling in as he bad predicted 
it would : every one thought that in so- 
other ten years the world would be 
safely enclosed again in its protective 
layer as it had been since the dawn 
of time. There were some adventur- 
ous spirits who deplored this fact, ss 
it would effectually bar interplanetary 
travel, for Hadley had proved with his 
life that no space flyer could force its 
way through the 
fifty miles of al- 
most solid matt- 
rial which barred 
the road to space, 



THE ATTACK FROM SPACE 



391 



hot they were in the minority. Most 
humanity felt that it would rather 
te protected against the denizens of 
gpace than to have a road open for 
them to travel to the moon if they felt 
Inclined. 

To be sure, during the five years 
that the hole had been open, nothing 
more dangerous to the peace and well- 
being of the world had appeared from 
■pace than a few hundreds of the pur- 
ple amoeba which we had found so nu- 
merous on the outer side of the layer, 
when we had traveled in a Hadley space 
■hip up through the hole into the outer 
realms of space, and one lone specimen 
of the green dragons which we had 
also encountered. The amoeba had been 
readily destroyed by the disintegrating 
rays of the guarding space-ships which 
were stationed inside the layer at the 
edge of the hole and the louej dragon 
had fallen a ready victim tqtthe ma- 
chine-gun bullets which had been 
poured into it At first the press had 
damned Jim Carpenter for opening the 
road for these horrors, but once their 
harmlessness had been clearly estab- 
lished, the row had died down and the 
appearance of an amoeba did not merit 
over a squib on the inside pages of 
the daily papers. 

WHILE the hole in the heaviside 
layer was no longer news for 
the daily press, a bitter controversy 
■till waged in the scientific journals 
as to the reason why no observer on 
earth, even when using the most power- 
ful telescopes, could see the amoeba 
before they entered the hole, and then 
only when their telescopes were set up 
directly under the hole. When a tele- 
scope of even-Small power was mount- 
ed in the grounds back of Carpenter's 
laboratory, the amoeba could be de- 
tected as soon as they entered the hole, 
or when they passed above it through 
space; but, aside from that point of 
vantage, they were entirely invisible. 

Carpenter's theory of the absorptive 
powers of the material of which the 
heaviside layer was composed was 



laughed to scorn by most scientists, 
who pointed out the fact that the sun, 
moon and stars could be readily seen 
through it- Carpenter replied that the 
rays of colored or visible light could 
only 'pass through the layer when su- 
perimposed upon a carrier wave of ul- 
tra-violet or invisible light. He stated 
dogmatically that the amoeba and the 
other denizens of space absorbed all 
the ultra-violet light which fell on them 
and reflected only the visible rays 
which could not pass through the 
heaviside layer because of the lack of 
a synchronized carrier wave of shorter 
wave-length. 

DESPETIER replied at great 
length and showed by apparently 
unimpeachable mathematics that Car- 
penter was entirely wrong and that his 
statements showed an absolute lack of 
knowledge of the most elementary and 
fundamental laws of light transmission. 
Carpenter replied briefly that he could 
prove by mathematics that two was 
equal to one and he challenged Despe- 
tier or anyone else to satisfactorily 
explain the observed facts in any other 
way. While they vainly tried to do so. 
Carpenter lapsed into silence in his 
Los Angeles laboratory and delved 
ever deeper into the problems of sci- 
ence. Such was the situation when the 
attack came from space. 

My first knowledge of the attack 
came when McQuarrie, the city editor 
of the San Francisco Clarion, sent for 
me. When I entered his office he 
tossed a Los Angeles dispatch on the 
desk before me and with a growl or- 
dered me to read it. It told of the 
unexplained disappearance of an eleven 
year old^boy the night before. It 
looked like a common kidnaping. 

"Well?" I asked as I handed him 
back the dispatch. 

WITH another growl he tossed 
down a second telegram. I 
read it with astonishment, for it told 
of a second disappearance which had 
happened about an hour after the first. 



392 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



The similarity of the two cases was 
at once apparent. 

"Coincidence or connection ?" I asked 
as I returned it. 

"Find out I" he replied. "If I knew 
which it was I wouldn't be wasting the 
paper's money by sending you to Los 
Angeles. I don't doubt that I am wast- 
ing it anyway, but as long as I am 
forced to keep you on as a reporter, I 
might as well try to make you earn the 
money the owner wastes on paying you 
a salary, even although I know it to be 
a hopeless task. Go on down there and 
see what you can find out, if anything." 

I jotted down in my notebook the 
names and addresses of the missing 
children and turned to leave. A boy 
entered and handed McQuarrie a yel- 
low slip. He glanced at it and called 
me back. 

"Wait a minute, Bond," he said as he 
handed me the dispatch. "I doubt but 
you'd better fly down to Los Angeles. 
Another case has just been reported." 

I hastily copied down the dispatch 
he handed me, which was almost a du- 
plicate of the first two with the ex- 
ception of the time and the name. 
Three unexplained disappearances in 
one day was enough to warrant speed; 
I- drew some expense money and was 
on my way south in a chartered plane 
within an hour. 

ON my arrival I went to the Asso- 
ciated Press office and found a 
message waiting for me, directing me 
to call McQuarrie on the telephone at 



"Hello, Bond," came his voice over 
the wire, "have you just arrived? Well, 
forget all about that disappearance 
case. Prince is on his way to Los An- 
geles to cover it. You hadn't been gone 
an hour before a wire came in from 
Jim Carpenter. He says, 'Send Bond 
to me at once by fastest conveyance. 
Chance for a scoop on the biggest story 
of the century.' I don't know what it's 
about, but Jim Carpenter is always 
front page news. Get in touch with 
him at once and stay with him until 



you have the story. Don't risk trying 
to telegraph it when you get it — tele> 
phone. Get moving I" ' 

I lost no time in getting Carpenter 
on the wire. 

"Hello, First Mortgage," hcgreeted 
me. "You made good time getting down 
here. Where areyou ?" 
"At the A. P. iQffice." 
"Grab a taxi and come out to the 
laboratory. Brij|g your grip with you: 



you may have 



o stay over night.' 

What's the 



'I'll be right out, Jim. 
story?" 

His voice suddenly grew grave. 

"It's the biggest thing you ever han- 
dled," he replied. "The fate of the 
whole world may hang on it. I don't 
want to talk over the phone ; come on 
out and I'll give you the whole thing." 

AN hour later I shook hands with 
Tim, the guard at the gate of the 
Carpenter laboratory, and passed 
through the grounds to enter Jim's 
private office. He greeted me warmly 
and for a few minutes we chatted of 
old times when I worked with him as 
an assistant in his atomic disintegra- 
tion laboratory and of the stirring 
events we had passed through together 
when we had ventured outside the 
heaviside layer in his space ship. 

"Those were stirring times," he said, 
"but I have an idea, First Mortgage, 
that they were merely a Sunday school 
picnic compared to what we are about 
to tackle." 

"I guessed that you had something 
pretty big up your sleeve from your 
message," I replied. "What's up now? 
Are we going to make a trip to the 
moon and interview the inhabitants?" 

"We may interview them without go- 
ing that far," he said. "Have you seen 
a morning paper?" 
"No." * 
"Look at this." 

HE handed me a copy of the Ga- 
zette. Streamer headlines told 
of the three disappearances which I 
had come to Los Angeles to cover, but 



THE ATTACK FROM SPACE 



393 



they bad grown to five daring the rime 
I had been flying down. I\I looked at 
Jim in surprise. y 

"We got word of that in San Fran- 
cisco," I told him, "and I came down 
here to coyer the story. When I got 
here, McQuarrie telephoned me your 
message and told me to come and see 
you instead. Has your message any- 
thing to do with this?" 

"It has everything to do with it. 
First Mortgage ; in fact, it is it. Have 
you any preconceived ideas on the dis- 
appearance epidemic?" 

"None at all." 

"All the better — you'll be able to ap- 
proach the matter with an unbiased 
viewpoint. Don't read that hooey put 
out by an inspired reporter who blames 
the lain ess of the city government ; I'll 
give you the facts without embellish- 
ment. Nothing beyond the bare fact 
of the . disappearance is known about 
the first case. Robert Prosser, aged 
eleven, was sent to the grocery store 
by his mother about six-thirty last 
night and failed to return. That's all 
we know about it, except that it hap- 
pened in Eagle Rock. The second case 
we have a little more data on. William 
Hill, aged twelve, was playing in Glen- 
dale last night with some companions. 
They were playing 'hide and go seek* 
and William hid. He could not be 
found by the boy who was searching 
and has not been found since. His com- 
panions became frightened and report- 
ed it about eight o'clock. They saw 
nothing, but mark this I Four of them 
agree that they heard a sound in the 
ifr like a motor humming." 

"That proves nothing." 

"npAKEN alone it does not, but in 
X. view of the third case, it is quite 
significant. The third case happened 
about nine-thirty last night. This time 
the victim was a girl, aged ten. She 
was returning home from a moving pic- 
ture with some companions and she dis- 
appeared. This time the other chil- 
dren saw her go. They say she was 
suddenly taken straight up into the air 



and then disappeared from sight. They 
also claim to have heard a sound like 
a big electric fan in the air at the time, 
although they could see nothing." 

"Had they heard the details of the 
second disappearance?" 

"They had not. I can see what you 
are thinking; that they were uncon- 
sciously influenced by the account 
given of the other case." 

"Consciously or unconsciously." 

"I doubt it, for the fourth case was 
almost a duplicate of the third. The 
fourth and fifth cases happened this 
morning. In the fourth case the child, 
for it was a nine year old girl this time, 
was lifted into the air in broad day- 
light and disappeared. This disap- 
pearance was witnessed, not only by 
children, but also by two adults, and 
their testimony agrees completely with 
that of the children. The fifth case is 
similar to the first : a ten year old boy 
disappeared without trace. The whole 
city is in a reign of terror." 

THE telephone at Carpenter's el- 
bow rang and he answered it. A 
short conversation took place and he 
turned to me with a grim face as he 
hung up the receiver. 

"Another case has just been reported 
to police headquarters from Beverly 
Hills," he said. "Again the child was 
seen to be lifted into the air by some 
invisible means and disappeared. The 
sound of a motor was plainly heard by 
five witnesses, who all agree that it 
was just above their heads, but that 
nothing could be seen." 
"Was it in broad daylight?" 
"Less than an hour ago." 
"But, Jim, that's impossible I" 
"Why is it impossible?" 
"It would imply the invisibility of a 
tangible substance; of a solid." 
"What of it?" 

"Why, there isn't any such substance. 
Nothing of the sort exists." 

Carpenter pointed to one of the win- 
dows of his laboratory. 

"Does that window frame i-""*''" 
glass or not ?" he asked. 



394 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



I strained my eyes. Certainly noth- 
ing was visible. 
"Yes," I said at a venture. 

HE rose and thrust his hand 
through the space where the 
glass should have been. 

"Has this frame glass in ft?" he 
asked, pointing to another. 
"No." 

He struck the glass with his knuckle. 

"I'll give up," I replied. "I am used 
to thinking of glass as being transpar- 
ent but not invisible ; yet I can see that 
under certain light conditions it may 
be invisible. Granted that such is the 
case, do you believe that living organ- 
isms can be invisible ?" 

"Under the right conditions, yes. Has 
any observer been able to see any of 
the purple amoeba which we know are 
so numerous on the outer side of the 
heaviside layer?" \ 

"Not until they have entered the hole 
through the layer." 

"And yet those amoeba are both solid 
and opaque, as you know. Why is it 
not possible that men, or intelligences 
of some sort, are in the air about us 
and yet are invisible to our eyes?" 

"It they are, why haven't we received 
evidence of it years ago?" 

"Because there has only been a hole 
through the heaviside layer for six 
years. Before that time they could not 
penetrate it any more than poor Had- 
ley could with his space ship. They 
have not entered the hole earlier be- 
cause it is a very small one, at present 
only some two hundred and fifty yards 
in' diameter in a sphere of over eight 
thousand miles diameter. The invaders 
have just found the entrance." 

The/ invaders? Do you think that 
the world has been invaded ?" 

"T DO. How else can you explain 
X the very fact which you have just 
quoted, that no evidence of the pres- 
ence on these invisible entities has pre- 
viously been recorded?" 
"Where did they come from?" 
"They may have come from any- 



where in the solar system, or even from 
outside it, but I fancy that they are 
from Mars or Venus." 
"Why so?" 

"Because they are the two planets 
nearest to the earth and are the ones 
where conditions are the most like they 
are, on the earth. Venus, for example, 
hia.an atmosphere and a gravity about 
.88 of earthly gravity, and life of a 
sort similar to that of the earth might 
well live there. Further, it seems more 
probable that the invaders have came 
from one of the nearby planets than 
from the realms of space beyond the 
solar system." 

t "What about the moon?" 

I "We can dismiss that because of the 

rack of an atmosphere." 

"It sounds logical, Jim, but the idea 
of living organisms of sufficient size 
to lift a child into the air who are in- 
visible seems a little absurd." 

"I never said they were invisible. I 
don't think they are^" 

"But they must be, else why weren't 
they seen?" 

"Use your head, First Mortgage. 
Those purple amoeba we encountered 
were quite visible to us, yet they are 
invisible to observers on the earth." 

"Yes, but that is because the heavi- 
side layer is between them and the 
earth. As soon as they come below it 
they can be seen." 

"TT»XACTLY. Why is it not pos- 
Hj Bible that the Venetians, or Mar- 
tians, or whoever our invaders are, have 
encased themselves and their space fly- 
er in a layer of some substance similar 
to the heaviside layer, a substance 
which is permeable to light rays only 
when a large proportion of ultra-violet 
rays accompany the visible rays? If 
they did this and then constructed the 
walls of their ship of some substance 
which absorbed all the ultra-violet rayi 
which fell on it; not only would the 
ship itself be invisible, but also every- 
thing contained in it — and yet they 
could see the outside world easily. 
That such is the case is proved by the 



THE ATTACK FROM SPACE 



395 



disappearance of those children in 
mid-air. They were taken into a space 
ship behind an ultra-violet absorbing 
wall and so became invisible." 

"If the walls absorbed all the ultra- 
violet and were impermeable to light 
without ultra-violet, the ship would 
appear as a black opaque substance and 
could be seen." 

That would be true except for one 
thing, which you are forgetting. The 
heaviside layer, as I have repeatedly 
proved, is a splendid conductor of ul- 
tra-violet. The rays falling on it are 
probably bent along the line of the 
covering layer so that they open up 
and bend around the ship in the same 
manner as flowing water will open up 
and flow around a stone and then come 
together again. The light must flow 
around the solid ship and then join 
again in such a manner that the eye can 
detect no interruption." 

"Jim, all that sounds reasonable, but 
have you any proof of it?" 

"No, First Mortgage, I haven't — yet; 
but if the Lord is good to us we'll 
have definite proof this afternoon and 
be in a position to successfully com- 
bat this new menace to the world." 

"Do you expect me to go on another 
one of your crack-brained expeditions 
into the unknown witn you?" 

ERTAINLY I do, but this time 
\j we won't go out of the known. 
I have our old space flyer which we 
took beyond the heaviside layer six 
years ago ready for action and we're 
going to look for the invaders this af- 
ternoon." 

"How will we see them if they are 
invisible?" 

"They are invisible to ordinary light 
but not to ultra-violet light. While 
most of the ultra-violet is deflected and 
flowsV around the ship or else is ab- 
•orbeoVj have an idea that, if we bathe 
It in a sufficient concentration of ultra- 
violet, some would be reflected. We 
ire going to look for the reflected por- 
tion." 

"Ultra-violet light is invisible." 



"It is to the eye, but it can be de- 
tected. You know that radium is ac- 
tivated and glows under ultra-violet?" 

"Yes." 

"Mounted on our flyer are six ultra- 
violet searchlights. By the side of each 
one is a wide angle telescopic concen- 
trator which will fotiiB any reflected 
ultra-violet onto a radium coated screen 
and thus make it visible to us. In 
effect the apparatus is a camera ob- 
scura with all lens made of rock crys- 
tal or fused quartz, both of which allow 
free passage to ultra-violet." 

"What will we do if we find them?" 

"Mounted beneath the telescope is a 
one-pounder gun with radite shells. If 
w v e locate them, we will use our best 
efforts to shoot them down." 

'^Suppose they are armed too?" 

**TN that case I hope that you shoot 
X faster and straighter than they do. 
If you don't — well, old man, it'll just 
be too damned bad." 

"I don't know that the Clarion hires 
me to go out and shoot at invisible in- 
vaders from another, planet, but if I 
don't go with you, I expect you'd just 
about call up the Echo or the Gazette 
and ask them for a gunner." 
"Just about." 

"In that case, I may as well be sac- 
rificed as anyone else. When do we 
start?" 

"You old faker r cried Jim, pound- 
ing me on the back. "You wouldn't 
miss the trip for anything. If you're 
ready we'll start right now. Every- 
thing is ready." 

"Including the sacrifice," I replied, 
rising. "All right, Jim, let's go and get 
it over with. If we live, I'll have to 
get back in time to telephone the story 
to McQuarrie for the first edition." 

I followed Jim out of the laboratory 
and to a large open space behind the 
main building where the infra-red 
generators with which he had pierced 
the hole through the heaviside layer 
had been located. The reflectors were 
still in place, but the bank of genera- 
tors had been removed. A gang of men 



396 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



were hard at work erecting a huge para- 
bolic reflector in the center of the cir- 
cle, about the periphery of which the 
infra-red reflectors were placed. In 
an open space near the center stood a 
Hadley- space ship, toward which Jim 
led the way. 

J WONDERED at the activity and 
meant to ask what it portended, 



As soon as we were well clear of the 
ground Jim reduced his power, and in 
a few moments we were floating mo- 
tionless in the air, a thousand feet up. 
He left the control board and came to 
my side. 

"Start your ultra lights," he said ai 
^hf joined me. "We may be able to spot 
something* from here." 
I started the lights and we stared at 



but in the excitement of boarding the^ the screens before Us. Nothing ap- 

a r * :~ r e 1 1 , x ■ • . xji 1 _r *.l 



flyer forgot it. I followed Jim in; he 
closed the door and started the air -con- 
ditioner. 

"Here, First Mortgage," he said as 
he turned from the control board and 
faced me, "here are the fluoroscopic 
screens. They are arranged in a bank, 
so that you can keep an eye on ill uT 
them readily. Beneath each telescope 
is an automatic one-pounder gun with 
its mount geared to the telescope and 
the light, so that the gun bears con- 
tinually on the point in space repre- 
sented by the center of the fluoroscopic 
screen which belongs to that light. If 
we locate anything, turn your beam, un- 
til the object is in the exact center of 
the screen where these two cross-hairs 
are. When you have it lined' up, push 
this button and the gun will fire." 

"What about reloading ?" 

"The guns are self-loading. Each 
one has twenty shells in its magazine 
and will fire one shot each time the 
button is pushed until it is empty. If 
you empty one magazine, I can turn 
the ship so that another gun will bear. 
ThlW gives you a total of one hundred 
andVwanty shots quickly available; 
there age sixty extra pounds, which we 
can break out and load into the maga- 
zines in a few seconds. Do you under- 
stand everything?" 

"I guess so. Everything seems clear 
enough." 

"All right ; sit down and well start." 

I TOOK my seat, and Jim pulled the 
starting lever. I was glued to the 
seat and the heavy springB in the 
cushion were compressed almost to 
their limit by the sudden acceleration. 



peared on any of them except the one 
pointing directly down, and only an 
image of the ground, appeared on it 
Under Jim's tutelage I swung the 
beams in wide circles, covering the 
space around us, but nothing appeared. 

"Those beams won't project over five 
miles in this atmosphere," he said, "and 
the ship we are looking for may be 
so small that we would have trouble lo- 
cating it at any great distance. I am 
going to move over near the scene of 
the last disappearance. Keep your 
lights ^swinging and sing out if you 
see anything on the screens." 

I could feel the .atop start to move 
slowly under the force of a side dis- 
charge from the pocket motor, and I 
swung the beams of the Mix lights 
around, trying to cover the entire area 
about us. Nothing appeared on the 
screens for an hour, and my head began 
to ache from the strain of unremitting 
close observation of the glowing 
screens. A buzz sounding over the 
hum of the rocket motor attracted my 
attention ; Jim pulled his levers to neu- 
tral with the exception of the one 
which maintained our elevation and 
stepped to an instrument on the wall 
of the flyer. 

"Hello," he called. "What? Where 
did it happen? All right, thanks, well 
move over that way at once." 

HE turned from the radio telephone 
and spoke. 
"Another disappearance has just been 
reported," he said. "It happened on the 
outskirts of Pasadena. Keep your eyes 
open ; I'm going to head in that di- 
rection." 



THE ATTACK FROM SPACE 



397 



A few minutes later we were float- 
ing over Pasadena. Jim stopped the 
flyer and joined me at the screens. We 
swung our beams in wide circles to 
cover the entire area around us, but no 
image on the screens rewarded us. 

"Doggone it, they must have left here 
in a hurry," grumbled Jim. 

Even as he spoke the flyer gave a 
lurch which nearly threw me off my 
seat and which sent Jim sprawling on 
\he floor. With a white face he leaped 
to the control board and pulled the 
lever controlling our one working stern 
motor to full power. For a moment the 
ship moved upward and then came to 
a dead stop, although the motor still 
roared at full speed. 

"Can't you see anything, Pete?" cried 
Jim as he threw our second stern motor 
into gear. 

Again the ship moved upward for a 
few feet and then stopped. I swung 
the searchlights frantically in all di- 
rections, but five of the screens re- 
mained blank and the sixth showed 
only the ground below us. 

"Not a thing," I replied. 

"Something ought to show," he mut- 
tered, and suddenly shut off both mo- 
tors. The flyer gave a sickening lurch 
toward the ground, but we fell only 
a hundred yards before our motion 
■topped. We hung suspended in the 
sir with no motors working. Jim joined 
me at the screens and we swung the 
lights rapidly without success. 

"Look, Pete I" Jim cried hoarsely. 

MY gaze followed his pointing 
finger and I saw the door of our 
flyer springing out as though some 
force from the outside were ''trying to 
wrench it open. The pull ceased for 
tn instant, then came again ;ithe sturdy 
latches burst and the door was torn 
from its hinges. Jim swung one of the 
searchlights until the beam was at 
right angles to the hull of the flyer 
and pressed the gun button. A crash 
filled the confined space of the flyer as 
t one-pounder radite shell tore out 
into space. 



"They're there but still invisible," he 
exclaimed as he shifted the direction 
of the gun and fired again. "I am shoot- 
ing by guess-work, but I might score 

a hit." 

He changed the direction of the gun 
again, but before he could press the 
button he was lifted into the air and 
drawn rapidly toward the open door. 

"Shoot, Pete!" he shouted. "Shoot 
and keep on shooting — it's your only 
chance 1" 

I turned to the knobs controlling the 
guns and lights, but, before I could 
make a move, something hard and cold 
grasped me about the middle and I was 
lifted into the air and drawn toward 
the open door after Jim. I tore at the 
thing holding me with my hands, but 
it was a smooth round thing like a two- 
inch thick wire, and I could get no 
grip on it to loosen it. Out through 
the door I went and was drawn through 
the air a few feet behind Jim. He 
moved ahead of me for fifteen or 
twenty feet and 1 then vanished in, mid- 
air. I dared not struggle in mid-air and 
I was drawn through a door into a 
large space flyer which became visible 
as I entered it. The flexible wire or 
rod which had held me uncoiled and 
I was free on the floor beside Jim Car- 
penter. This much was clear and un- 
derstandable, but when I looked at the 
crew of that space ship, I was sure 
that I had lost my mind or was seeing 
visions. I had naturally expected men, 
or at least something in semi-human 
form, but instead of anything of the 
sort, before me stood a dozen gigantic 
beetles I 

1 RUBBED my eyes and looked 
again. There was no mistaking 
the fact that we had been captured by 
a race of gigantic beetles flying an in- 
visible space ship. When I had time 
later to examine them critically, I 
could see marked differences between 
our captors and the beetles we were ac- 
customed to see on the earth besides 
the mere matter of size. To begin with, 
their bodies were relatively much 



398 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



smaller, the length of shell of the 
largest specimen not being over four 
feet, while the head of the same insect, 
exclusive of the horns or pinchers, 
was a good eighteen inches in length. 
The pinchers, which by all beetle pro- 
portions should have been a couple of 
feet long at the least, did not extend 
over the head a distance greater than 
eight inches, although they were 
sturdy and powerful. 

Instead of traveling with their shells 
horizontal as do earthly beetles, these 
insects stood erect on their two lower 
pairs of legs, which were of different 
lengths so that all four feet touched the 
ground when the shell was vertical. 
The two upper pairs of legs were used 
as arms, the topmost pair* being. quite 
short and splitting out at the end into 
four flexible claws about five inches 
long, which they used as fingers. These 
upper arms, which sprouted from a 
point near the top of the head, were 
peculiar in that they apparently had 
no joints like the other three pairs but 
were flexible like an elephant's trunk. 
The second pair of arms were armed 
with long, vicious-looking hooks. The 
backplates concealed only very rudi- 
mentary wings, not large enough to 
enable the insects to fly, although Jim 
told me later that they could fly on 
their own planet, where the lessened 
gravity made such extensive wing sup- 
ports as would be needed on earth un- 
necessary. 

The backplates were a brilliant green 
in color, with six-inch stripes of 
chrome yellow running lengthwise and 
crimson spots three inches in diameter 
arranged in rows between the stripes. 
Their huge-faceted eyes sparkled like 
crystal when the light fell on them, 
and from time to time waves of vari- 



* Mr. Bond has made a laughable error in 
bis description. Like all of tbe coleoptera, 
the Mercurians were 'hexapoda' (six-legged). 
Wbat Mr. Bond, continually refers to in his 
narrative as "upper Tras were really tbe 
antenna of the insects which split at the end 
mto four flexible appendages resembling fin- 

Ers. His mistake is a natural one, for the 
BTCurians used their antenna as extra arms. 
—James S. Carpenter. 



oua colors passed over them, evidently 
reflecting the insect's emotions. Al- 
though they gave the impression of 
great muscular power, their movements 
were slow and sluggish, and they 
seemed to have difficulty in getting 
around. 

AS my horrified gaze took in these 
monstrosities I turned with i 
shudder to Jim Carpenter. 

"Am I crazy, Jim," I asked, "or do 
you see these things too?" 

"I see them all right, Pete," he re- 
plied. "It isn't as surprising as it 
seems at first glance. You- expected to 
find human beings; so did I, bat whit 
reason had we for doing so? It ii 
highly improbable, when you come to 
consider the matter, that evolution 
should take the same course elsewhere 
as it did on earth. Why not beetles, or 
fish, gr horned toads, for that matter?'' 
"No reason, I guess," I answered; 
"I just hadn't expected anything of the 
sort. What do you suppose they mean 
to do with us?" 

"I haven't any idea, old man Well 
just have to wait and see. I'll try to 
talk to them, although I don't expect 
much luck at it." 

He turned to the nearest beetle and 
slowly and clearly spoke a few words. 
The insect gave no signs of compre- 
hension, although it watched the move- 
ment of Jim's lips carefully. It is my 
opinion, and Jim agrees with me, that 
the insects we're both deaf and dumb, 
for during the entire time we were 
associated with them, we never heard 
them give forth a sound under any cir- 
cumstances, nor saw them react to any 
sound that we made. Either they had 
some telepathic means of communica- 
tion or else they made and heard 
sounds beyond the range of the human 
ear, for it was evident from their ac- 
tions that they frequently communi- 
cated with one another. 

HEN Jim failed in his first at- 
tempt to communicate he looked 
around for another method. He no- 



W 



THE ATTACK FROM SPACE 



399 



ticed my notebook, which had fallen 
on the floor when I was set down; he 
picked it up and drew a pencil from 
his pocket. The insects watched his 
movements carefully, and when he had 
made a sketch in the book, the nearest 
one took it from him and examined it 
carefully and then passed it to another 
one, who also examined it. The sketch 
which Jim had drawn showed the out- 
line of the Hadley space flyer from 
which he had been taken. When the 
beetles had examined the sketch, one 
of them Btepped to an instrument board 
in the center of the ship and made ah 
adjustment. Then he pointed with one 
of his lower arms. 

We looked in the direction in which 
he pointed; to our astonishment, the 
walls of the flyer seemed to dissolve, 
or at least to become perfectly trans- 
parent. The floor of the space ship was 
composed of some silvery metal, and 
from it had risen walls of the same ma- 
terial, but now the effect was as though 
we were suspended in mid-air, with 
nothing either around us or under us. 
I gasped and grabbed at the instrument 
board for Bupport. Then I felt foolish 
aa I realized that there was no change 
in the feel of the floor' for all its trans- 
parency and that we were not falling. 

A SHORT distance away we could 
see our flyer suspended in the 
air, held up by two long flexible 
rods or wires similar to those which 
had lifted us from our ship into our 
prison. I saw a dozen more of these 
rods coiled up, hanging in the air, evi- 
dently, but really on the floor near the 
edge of the flyer, ready for use. Jim 
suddenly grasped me by the arm. 

"Look behind you in a moment," he 
Bid, "but don't start 1" 

He took the notebook in his hand and 
started to draw a sketch. I looked 
behind as he had told me to. Hanging 
In the air in a position which told me 
that they must have been in aylifferent 
compartment of tfie^fjper, were five 
children. They were white as marble, 
and lay perfectly motionless. 



"Are they dead, Jim 7" I asked in a 
low voice without looking at him. 

"I ddn't know," he replied, "but we'll 
find out a little later. I am relieved, 
to find them here, and I doubt if they 
are harmed." 

The sketch which he was making 
was one of the solar system, and, when 
he had finished, he marked the eaVth 
with a cross and handed the notebook 
to one of the beetles. The insect took 
it and showed it to his companions; 
so far as I was able to judge expres- 
sions, they were amazed to find that 
we had knowledge of the heavenly 
bodies. The beetle took Jim's pencil 
in one of its hands and, after examin- 
ing it carefully, made a cross on the 
circle which Jim had drawn to repre- 
sent the planet Mercury. 

•"T^HEY come from Mercury," ex- 
X claimed Jim in surprise as he 
showed me the sketch. "That accounts 
for a good many things; why they are 
so lethargic, for one thing. Mercury 
is much smaller' than the earth and the 
gravity is much less. According to 
Mercurian standards, they must weigh 
a ton each. It is quite a tribute to their 
muscular development that they can 
move and support their weight against 
our gravity. They can understand a 
drawing all right, so we have a means 
of communicating with them, although 
a pretty slow one and dependent en- 
tirely on my limited skill as a cartoon- 
ist. I wonder if we are free to move 
about?" 

"The only way to find out is to try," 
I replied and stood erect. The beetles 
offered no objection and Jim stood up 
beside me. We walked, or rather 
edged, our way toward the side of the 
ship. The insects watched us when we 
started to move and then evidently de- 
cided that we were harmless. They 
turned from us to the working of the 
ship. One of them manipulated some 
dials on the instrument board. One of 
the rods which held our flyer released 
its grip, came in toward the Mercurian 
ahip and coiled itself up on the floor. 



400 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



or the place where the floor should 
have been. The insect touched another 
dial. Jim threw caution to the winds, 
raced across the floor and grasped the 
beetle by the arm. 

The insect looked at him question* 
ingly ; Jim produced the notebook and 
drew a sketch representing our flyer 
railing.' On the level he had used to 
represent the ground he made another 
sketch' of it lying in ruins. The beetle 
nodded comprehendingly and turned 
to another dial; the ship sank slowly 
toward the ground. 

E sank until we hung only a 
few feet from the ground 
when our flyer was gently lowered 
down. When it rested on the ground, 
the wire which had held it uncoiled, 
came aboard and coiled itself up be- 
side the others. As the Mercurian ship 
rose I noticed idly that the door which 
had been torn from our ship and 
dropped lay within a few yards of the 
ship itself. The Mercurian ship rose 
to an elevation of a hundred feet, drift- 
ing gently over the city. 

As we rose I determined to try the 
effect of my personality on the beetles. 
I approached the one who seemed to be 
the leader and, putting on the most 
woeful expression I could muster, I 
looked at the floor. He did not under- 
stand me and I pretended that I was 
falling and grasped at him. This time 
he nodded and stepped to the instru- 
ment board. In a moment the floor be- 
came visible. I thanked him as best 
I could in pantocaine and approached 
the walla. They were so transparent 
that I felt an involuntary shrinking as 
I approached them. I edged my way 
cautiously forward until my out- 
stretched hand encountered a solid sub- 
stance. I looked out. 

At the slow speed we were traveling 
the drone of our motors was hardly 
audible to us, and I felt sure that it 
could not be heard on the ground. 
Once their curiosity was satisfied, "our 
captors paid little or no attention to me 
and left' me free to come and go as I 



wished. I made my way cautiously to- 
ward the children, but ran into a solid 
wall. Remembering Jim's words, I 
made my way back toward him with- 
out displaying any interest. 

JIM could probably have wandered 
around as I did had he wished, but 
he chose to occupy his time different- 
ly. With his notebook and pencil he 
carried on an extensive conversation, 
if that term can be applied to a crudely 
executed set of drawing, with the lead- 
er of the beetles. I was not especially 
familiar with the methods of control 
of space ships and I could make noth- 
ing of the maze of dials and switches 
on the instrument board. 

For half an hour we drifted slowly 
along. Presently one of the bettles 
approached, seized my arm and turned 
me about. With one of his arms he 
pointed ahead. A mile away I could 
see another space flyer similar to the 
one we were on. 

"Here comes another one, Jim," I 
called. 

"Yes, I saw it some time ago. I 
don't know where the third one is." 

"Are there three of them?" 

"Yes. Three of them came here yes- 
terday and are exploring the country 
round about here. They are scouts 
sent out from the fleet of our brother 
planet to see if the road was clear and 
what the world was like. They spotted 
the hole through the layer with their 
telescope, and sent their fleet out to pay 
us a visit. He tells me that the scouts 
have reported favorably and that the 
whole fleet, several thousand ships, ai 
near as I can make out, are expected 
here this evening." 

"Have you solved the secret of their 
invisibility ?" * 

""PARTLY. It is as I expected. 

-L The walls of the ship are 
double, the inner, one of metal and the 
outer one of vitrolenc or some similar 
perfectly transparent substance. The 
space between the walls is filled with 
some substance which will bend both 



w 



THE ATTACK 

J 

visible and ultra-violet rays along a 
path around the ship and then lets them 
go in their original direction. The 
reason why we can see through the 
walls and see the protective coating 
of that ship coming is that they /n 
generating some sort of a ray here 
which acts as a carrier for the visible 
light rays. I don't know what sort of 
a ray it is, but 'when I get a good look 
at their generators, I may be able to 
tell. Are you beginning to itch and 
burn ?" 

"Yes, I believe that I am, although I 
hadn't noticed it until you spoke." 

"I have been noticing it for some 
time. From its effects on the skin, I 
am inclined to believe it to be a ray of 
very short wave-length, possibly some- 
thing like our X-ray, or even shorter." 

"Have you found out what they in- 
tend to do with us?" 

"I don't think they have decided yet. 
Possibly they are going to take us up 
to the leader of their fleet and let him 
decide. The cuss that is in command 
of this ship seems surprised to death 
to find out that I can comprehend the 
principles of his ship. He seems to 
think that I am a sort of a rara avis, 
a freak of nature. He intimated that 
he would recommend that we be used 
for vivisection." 

"Good LordT 

"It's not much more worse than the 
fate they design for the rest of their 
captives, at that." 

"What is that?" 

"It's a long story that I'll have to 
tell you later. I want to watch this 
meeting." 

THE other ship had approached to 
within a few yards andfloated sta- 
tionary, while some sort of communica- 
tion was exchanged between the two. 
I could not fathom the method used, 
bat the commander of our craft 
clamped what looked like a pair of 
headphones against his body and 
plugged the end of a wire leading from 
them into his instrument board. From 
nine to time various colored lights 



FROM SPACE 401 

glowed on the board before him. After 
a time he uncoupled his device from 
the board, and one of -the long rods 
shot out from our ship to the other. 
It returned in a moment clamped 
around the body of a young girL As 
she came on board, she was lowered 
onto the deck beside the other children. 
Like them, she was stiff and motion- 
less. I gave an exclamation and sprang 
forward. 
"Pete I" 

Jim's voice recalled me to myself, 
and I watched the child laid with the 
others with as disinterested an expres- 
sion as I could muster. I had never 
made a mistake in following Jim Car- 
penter's lead and I knew that some- 
where in his head a plan was maturing 
which might offer us some chance of 
escape. 

Our ship moved ahead down a long 
slant, gradually dropping nearer to the 
ground. I watched the maneuver with 
interest while Jim, with his friend the 
beetle commander, went over the ship. 
The insect was evidently amused at 
Jim and was determined to find out the 
limits of his intelligence, for he point- 
ed out various controls and motors of 
the ship and made elaborate sketches 
which Jim seemed to comprehend 
fairly well. 

ONE of the beetles approached the 
control board and motioned me 
back. I stepped away from the board; 
evidently a port in the side of the ves- 
sel opened, for I felt a breath of air 
and could hear the Hum of the city. 
I walked to the side and glanced down, 
and found that we were floating about 
twenty feet off the ground over a street 
on the edge of the city. On the street 
a short distance ahead of us two chil- 
dren, evidently returning from school, 
• to judge by the books under their arms, 
were walking unsuspectingly along. A 
turn of the dial sped up our motors, 
and as the hum rang out in a louder 
key the children looked upward. Two 
of the long flexible wires shot out and 
wrapped themselves about the chil- 



402 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



dim; r ream i ng, they were lifted into 
the space flyer. The port through 
which they came in shut with a clang 
and the ship rose rapidly irrtb the 
air. The children were released from 
the wires which coiled themselves up 
on deck and the beetle who had oper- 
ated them stepped, forward and 
grasped the nearer of the children, a 
boy of about eleven, by the arm. He 
raised the boy, who was paralyzed with 
terror, up toward his head and gazed 
steadily into his eyes. Slowly the boy 
ceased struggling and became white 
and rigid. The beetle laid him on the 
deck and turned the girl. Involuntarily 
I gave a shout and sprang forward, but 
Jim grasped me by the arm. 

"Keep quiet, you darned fooll" he 
cried. "We can do nothing now. Wait 
for a chancel" 

"We can't stand here and see murder 
donet" I protested. 

"It's not murder. Pete, those chil- 
dren aren't being hurt. They are being 
hypnotized so that they can be trans- 
ported to Mercury." 

"Why are they taking them to, Mer- 
cury?" I demanded. 

"As nearly as I can make out, there 
is a race of men up there who are 
subject to these beetles. This ship is 
radium propelled, and the men and wo- 
men are the slaves who work in the 
radium mines. Of course the workers 
soon become sexless, but others are 
kept for breeding purposes to keep the 
race alive. Through generations of in- 
breeding, the stock is about played out 
and are getting too weak to be of much 
value. 

"The Mercurians have been studying 
the whole universe to find a race which 
will serve their purpose and they have 
fhw" us to be the victims. When 
their fleet gets here, they plan to cap- 
ture thousands of selected children and 
carry them to Mercury in order to in- 
fuse their blood into the decadent race 
of slaves they have. Those who are 
not suitable for breeding when they 
grow up will die as slaves in the ra- 



"T TORRIBLEf I gasped. "Why 
11 are they talcing children, Jim? 
Wouldn't adults suit their purpost 
better r 

"They are afraid to take adults. Ob 
Mercury an earthman would have 
muscles of unheard of power and 
adults would constantly strive to rise 
against their masters. By getting chil- 
dren, they hope to raise them to Know 
nothing else than a life of slavery and 
get the advantage of their strength 
without risk. It is a clever scheme." 

"And are we to stand here and let 
them do it?" 

"Npt on your life, but we had better 
hold easy for a while'. If I can get 
a few minutes more with that brute 
111 know enough about running this 
ship that we can afford to do away 
with them. You have a pistol, haven't 
you?" 

"No." , 

"The devil! I thought yoii had. I 
have an automatic, but it only carries 
eight shells. There are eleven of these 
insects and unless we can get the jump 
on them, they'll do us. I saw what 
looks like a knife lying near the in- 
strument board 1 get over near it and 
get ready to grab it as soon as you 
hear my pistol. These things are deaf 
and if I work it right I may be able 
to do several of them' in before they 
know what's happening. When you 
attack, don't try to ram them in the 
back : their backplates are an inch thick 
and will be proof against a knife 
thrust. Aim /at their eyes; if you can 
blind them, they'll be helpless. Do yoa 
understand ?" 

"I'll do my best, Jim," I replied. 
"Since you have told me their plans 
I am itching to get at them." 

1 EDGED over toward the kflife, but 
as I did so I saw a better weapon. 
On the floor lay a bar Of silvery metal 
about thirty inches long and an Inch 
in diameter. I picked it up and toyed 
with it idly, meanwhile, edging around 
to get behind the insect which I had 
marked for my first attentions. Jka 



THE ATTACK FROM SPACE 



403 



was talking again by means of the note- 
book with bis beetle friend. They 
walked aroand the ship, ezaminine 
everything in it. 1 

"Are you ready, Pete?" came Jim's 
voice at last. 

"All set," I replied, getting a firmer 
grasp on my bar and edging toward 
one of the insects. 

"Well, don't start until 1 fire. You 
notice the bug I am talking to? Don't 
kill him unless you have to. This ship 
is a little too complicated for me to 
fathom, so I want this fellow taken 
prisoner. Well use him as our en- 
gineer when we take control." 

"I understand." 

"All right, get ready." 

I kept my eye on Jim. He had 
drawn the beetle with whom he was 
talking to a position where they were 
behind the rest. Jim pointed at some- 
thing behind the insect's back and the 
beetle turned. As it did so, Jim 
whipped out his pistol and, taking care- 
ful aim, fired at one of the insects. 

As the sound of the shot rang out 
I raised my bar and leaped forward. 
I brought It down with crushing force 
on the head of the nearest beetle. My 
victim fell forward, and I heard Jim's 
pistol bark again; but I bad no time to 
watch him. As the beetle I struck fell 
the others turned and I had two of 
them coming at me with outstretched 
arms, ready to grasp me. I swung my 
bar, and the arm of one of them fell 
limp; but the other seized me with 
both its hands, and I felt the cruel 
hooks of its lower arms against the 
•mall of my backY 

ONE of my arms was still free; I 
swung my bar again, and it 
■track my captor on the back of the 
head. It was stunned by the blow and 
fell. I seized the knife from the floor, 
and threw myself down beside it and 
■truck at its eyes, trying to roll it over 
so as to protect me from the other who 
waa trying to grasp me. 

I felt hands clutch me from behind; 
I was wrenched loose from the body of 



my victim and lifted into the air. I 
was turned about and stared hard into 
the implacable crystalline eyes of one 
of the insects. For a moment my senses ( 
reeled and then, without volition, I 
dropped my bar. I remembered the 
children and realized that I' was being 
hypnotized. I fought against the feel- 
ing, but my senses reeled and I almost 
went limp, when the sound of a pistol 
shot, almost in my ear, roused me. The 
spell of the beetle was momentarily 
broken. I thrust the knife which I 
still grasped at the eyes before me. "My 
blow went home, but the insect raised 
me and bent me toward him until my 
head lay on top of his and the huge 
horns which adorned his head began 
to close. Another pistol shot sounded, 
and I was suddenly dropped. 

I grasped my bar as I fell and leaped 
up. The flyer was a shambles. Dead 
insects lay on all sides while Jim 
smoking pistol in hand, was staring as 
though fascinated into the eyes of one 
of the surviving beetles. I ran for- 
ward and brought my bar down on the 
insect's head, but as I did so I was 
grasped from behind. 

"Jim, help I" I cried as I was swung 
into the air. The insect whirled me 
around and then threw me to the floor. 
I had an impression of falling; then 
everything dissolved in a flash of light. 
I was unconscious only for a moment, 
and I came to to find Jim Carpenter 
standing over me, menacing my as- 
sailant with his gun. 

"Thanks, Jim," I said faintly. 

"If you're conscious again, get op 
and get your bar," he replied. "My 
pistol is empty and I don't know how 
long I can run a bluff on this fellow." 

I SCRAMBLED to my feet and 
graBped the bar. Jim stepped be- 
hind me and reloaded his pistol. 

"All right," he said when he had 
finished, "I'ljl take charge of this fel- 
low. Go around and see if the rest are 
dead. If they aren't when you find 
them, see that they are when you leave 
them. We're taking no prisoners." 



404 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



I went the rounds' of the prostrate 
insects. None of them were beyond 
moving except two whose heads had 
been crushed by my bar, but I obeyed 
Jim's orders. When I rejoined him 
with my bloody bar, the only beetle left 
alive was the commander, whom Jim 
was covering with his pistol. 

"Take the gun," he said when I re- 
ported my actions, "and give me the 
bar." 

We exchanged weapons and Jim 
turned to the captive. 

"Now, old fellow," he said grimly, 
"either you run this ship as I want you 
to, or you're a dead Indian. Savvy ?" 

He took his pencil and notebook 
from his pocket and drew a sketch of 
our Hadley space ship. On the other 
end of the sheet he drew a picture of 
the Mercurian ship, and then drew a 
line connecting the two. The insect 
looked at the sketch but made no move- 
ment. 

"All right/ if that's the way you feel 
about it," said Jim. He raised the bar 
and brought it down with crushing 
force on one of the insect's lower arms. 
The arm fell as though paralyzed and 
a blue light played across the beetle's 
eyes. Jim extended the sketch again 
and raised the bar threateningly. The 
beetle moved over to the control board, 
Jim following closely, and set the ship 
in motion. Ten minutes later it rested 
on the ground beside the ship in which 
we had first taken the air. 

FOLLOWING Jim's pictured or- 
ders the beetle opened the door 
of the Mercurian ship and followed 
Jim into fhe Hadley. As we emerged 
from the Mercurian ship I looked back. 
It had vanished completely. 
"The children, Jim I" I gasped. 
"I haven't forgotten them," he re- 
plied, "but they are all right for the 
present. If we turned them loose now, 
we'd have ninety reporters around us 
in ten minutes. I want to get our gene- 
raters modified first." 

He pointed toward the spot where 
Mercurian ship had stood and then to- 



ward our gen craters. The beetle hesi- 
tated, but Jim swung his bar against 
the insect's side in a, vicious blow. 
Again came the play of blue light over 
the eyes ; the beetle bent over our gene- 
raters and set to work. Jim handed 
me the bar and bent over to help.' 
They were both mechanics of a high 
order and they worked well together; 
in an hour the beetle started the gene- 
rators and swung one of the search- 
lights toward his old ship. It leaped 
into view on the radium coated screen. 

"Good business I" ejaculated Jim. 
"We'll repair this door: then we'll be 
ready to release the children and start 
out." 

WE followed the beetle into 
the Mercurian ship, which it 
seemed to be able to see. It opened 
a door leading into another compart- 
ment of the flyer, and before- us lay 
the bodies of eight children. The beetle 
lifted the first one, a little girl, up un- 
til his many-faceted eyes looked full 
into the closed ones of the child. There 
was a flicker of an eyelash, a trace of 
returning color, and then a scream of 
terror from the child. The beetle set 
the girl down and Jim bent over her. 

"It's all right now, little lady," he 
said, clumsily smoothing her hair. 

"You're safe now. Run along to your., 
mother. First Mortgage, take_chfrge 
of her and take her outside. It isn't 
well for children to See these things." 

The child clung to my hand; I led 
her out of the ship, which promptly 
vanished as we left it One by one, 
seven other children joined us, the last 
one, a miss of not over eight, in Jim'i 
arms. The beetle followed behind him. 

"Do any of you know where you 
are ?" asked Jim as he came out. 

"I do, sir," said one of the boys. "I 
live close to here-." 

"All right, take these youngsters to 
your house and tell your mother to 
telephone their parents to come and get 
them. If anyone asks you what hap- 
pened, tell them to see Jinr Carpenter 
to-morrow. Do you understand?" 



THE ATTACK FROM SPACE 



•Yes, sir." 

"AH right, run along then. Now, 
pint Mortgage, let's go hunting." 

WE wired our captive up so se- 
curely that I felt that there was 
as possible chance of his escape ; then, 
with Jim at the controls and me at the 
guns, we fared forth in search of the 
invaders. Back and forth over the city 
we flew without sighting another space- 
drip in the air. Jim gave an exclama- 
tion of impatience and swung on a 
wider circle, which took us out over 
the water. I kept the searchlights 
working. Presently, far ahead over the 
water, a dark spot came into view. . I 
■ailed to Jim and we approached it at 
top speed. 

"Don't shoot until we are within four 
hundred yards," cautioned Jim. 

I held my fire until we were within 
die specified distance. The newcomer 
wa another of the Mercurian space- 
dnpt; with a feeling of joy I swung 
mj beam until the cross-hairs of the 
Kreen rested full on the invader. 

"All ready I" I sung out. 

"If you are ready, Gridley, you may 
feel" replied Jim. I pressed the gun 
button. The crash of the gun was fol- 
lowed by another report from outside 
■ the radite shell burst against the 
Mercurian flyer. The deadly explosive 
did its work, and the shattered remains 
of the wreck fell, to be engulfed in the 
lea below. 

That's one I" cried Jim. "I'm afraid 
we won't have time to hunt up the other 
right now. This bng told me that the 
other Mercurians are due here to-day, 
ad I think we had better form our- 
■fres into a reception committee and 
|o up to the hole to meet them." 

HE sent the ship at high speed over 
the city until we hovered over 
lie laboratory. We stopped for a mo- 
Beat, and Jim stepped to the radio 
telephone. 

"Hello, Williams," he said, "how are 
Bags going ? - That's fine. In an hour, 
fen My? Well, speed it up as much 



as you can; we may call for it soon." 

He turned both stern motors to foil 
power, and we shot up like a rocket 
toward the hole in the protective layer 
through which the invaders had en- 
tered. In ten minutes we were atjhe: 
altitude of the guard ships and Jim 
asked if anything had been seen. The 
report was negative ; Jim left them be- 
low the layer and sent , our flyer up 
through the hole into space. We 
reached the outer surface in another ten 
minutes and we were none too soon. 
Hardly had we debouched from the 
hole than ahead of us we saw another 
Mercurian flyer. It was a lone one, 
and Jim bent over the captive and held 
a hastily made sketch before him. The 
sketch showed three Mercurian flyers, 
one on the ground, one wrecked and 
the third one in the air. He touched 
the drawing of the one in the air and 
pointed toward our port hole and 
looked questioningly at the beetle. The 
insect inspected the flyer in space and 
nodded. 

M Good I" cried Jim. "That's the 
third of the trio who came ahead as 
scouts. Get your gun ready, First 
Mortgage : we're going to pick him off." 

Our ship approached the doomed 
Mercurian. Again I waited until we 
were within four hundred yards; then 
I pressed the button which hurled it, 
a crumpled wreck, onto the outer sur- 
face of the heaviside layer. 

"Two I" cried Jim as we backed 
away. 

"Here come plenty more," I cried as 
I swung the searchlight. Jim left his 
controls, glanced at the screen and 
whistled softly. Dropping toward us 
from space were hundreds of the Mer- 
curian ships. 

"We got here just in time," he said. 
"Break out your extra ammunition 
while I take to the hole. We can't 
hope to do that bunch alone, so we'll 
fight a rearguard action." 

SINCE our bow gun would be the 
only one in action, I hastily moved 
the spare boxes of ammunition nearer 



406 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



1 



to it while Jim maneuvered the Hadley 
over the hole. As the Mercurian fleet 
came nearer he .started a slow retreat 
toward the earth. The Mercurians over- 
took us rapidly; Jim locked his con- 
trols at slow speed down and hurried 
to the bow gun. 

"Start shooting as soon as you can," 
he said. "I'll keep the magazine filled." 

I swung the gun until the cross-hairs 
of the screen rested full on the leading 
ship and pressed the button. My aim 
was true, and the shattered fragments 
of the ship fell toward me. The bal- 
ance of the fleet slowed down for an 
instant; I covered another one and 
pressed my button. The ship at which 
I had aimed was in motion and I 
missed it, but I had die satisfaction 
of seeing another one fall in fragments. 
Jim was loading the magazine as fast 
as I fired. I covered another ship and 
fired again. A third one of our ene- 
mies fell in ruins. The rest paused 
and drew oS. 

"They're, retreating, JimT I cried. 

"Cease firing until they ' come on 
again," he replied as he took the shells 
from the magazines of the other guns 
and piled them near the bow gun. 

I held my fire for a few minutes. 
The Mercurians retreated a short dis- 
tance and then came on again with a, 
rush. Twenty times my gun went off 
as fast as I could align it and press 
the trigger, and eighteen of the enemy 
ships were in ruins. Again the Mercu- 
rians retreated. I held my fire. We 
were falling more rapidly now and far 
below we coujd see the black spots 
which were the guard ships. I told 
Jim that they were in sight; he 
stepped to the radio telephone and or- 
dered them to keep well away from the 
bole. 

AGAIN the Mercurian ships came 
on with a rush, this time with 
beams of orange light stabbing a way 
before them. When I told Jim of this 
he jumped to the controls and shot our 
ship down st breakneck speed. 
"1 don't know what sort of fighting 



apparatus they have, but I don't cut 
to face it," he said to me! "Fire if they 
get close ; but I hope to get out of tot 
hole before they are in range." 

Fast as we fell, the Mercurians were 
coming faster, and they were not over 
eight hundred yards from us when be 
reached the level of the guard snips, 
Jim checked oar speed ; I managed to - 
pick off three more of the invaders be- 
fore we moved away from the hole. 
Jim stopped the side motion and 
jumped to the radio telephone. 

"Hello, Williams!" he shouted into 
the instrument. "A_re you ready down 
there? Thank God I Full power it 
once, please I 

"Watch what happens," he said to 
me, as he turned from the instrument 

Some fifty of the Mercurian flyers 
had reached our level and had started 
to move toward us before anything 
happened. Then from below came a 
beam of intolerable light. Upward it 
struck, and the Mercurian ships on 
which it impinged disappeared in a 
flash of light. 

"A disintegrating ray," explained 
Jim. "I suspected that it might be 
needed and I started Williams to rig- 
ging it up early this morning. I hated 
to use it because it may easily undo the 
work that six years have done in heal- 
ing the break in the layer, but it was 
necessary. That ends the invasion, ex- 
cept for those ten or twelve shipt 
ahead of us. How is your marksman- 
ship? Can you pick off ten in ten 
shots?" 

"Watch me," I said grimly as the ship 
started to move. 

PRIDE goeth ever before a fall: it 
took me sixteen shots to demolish 
the eleven ships which had escaped de- 
struction from the ray. As the last one 
fell in ruins, Jim ordered the ray shnt 
off. We fell toward the ground. 

"What are we going to do with oar 
prisoner?" I asked. 
Jim looked at the beetle meditatively. 
"He would make a fine museum piece 
if he were stuffed," he said, "but on 



THE ATTACK FROM SPACE 



407 



the whole, I think we'll let him go. He 
it an intelligent creature and will prob- 
ably be happier on Mercury than any- 
where etae. What do you say that we 
pot him on his atrip and turn him 
loose?" 

"To lead another invasion?" I asked. 

"I think not. He has seen what has 
happened to- this one and is more* like- 
ly to warn them to keep away. In any 
event, if we equip the guard ships with 
a ray that will show the Mercurian 
ships up and keep the disintegrating 
ray ready for action, we needn't fear 
another invasion. Let's let him go." 

"It suits me all right, Jim, but I hold 
oat for one thing. I will never dare 
to face McQuarrie again if I fail to get 
a picture of him. I insist on taking 



his photograph before c we turn him 
loose." 

"All right, go ahead," laughed Jim, 
"He ought to be able to stand that, if 
you'll spare him an interview." 

An hour later we watched the Mer- 
curian flyer disappear into space. 

"I hope I've seen the last of those 
bugs," I said as the flyer faded from 
view. 

"I don't know," said Jim thought- 
fully. "If I have interpreted correctly 
the drawings that creature made, there 
is a race of manlike bipeds on Mercury 
who are slaves to those beetles and who 
live and die in the horrible atmosphere 
of a radium mine. Some of these days 
I may lead an expedition to our sister 
planet and look into that matter." 



MECHANICAL VOICES FOR PHONE NUMBERS 



NEW developments whereby science goes 
■dH farther in its assumption of human 
attributes were described and demonstrated 
recently by Sergins P. Grace, Assistant Vice- 
President of Bell Telephone Laboratories, 
where the developments were conceived and 
worked oat 

One development described, and soon to 
be put into service in New York, transforms 
■ telephone number dialed by a subscriber 
ano speech. Although the subscriber says 
not a word the number dialed is spoken aloud 
to the operator. 

This device is expected to simplify and 
speed me hooking together of automatic and 
voice-hand-operated telephone exchanges, and 
also to speed long-distance calls from auto- 
matic phones through rural exchanges. 

The numbers which can thus be spoken 
ire recorded on talkie films and those which 
ire to go into use here have already been 
made, all by an Irish girl said to have the 
best voice among the city's "number, please'' 
girls, 

Mr. Grace demonstrated this device by car- 
rying into the audience a telephone with a 
nog cord connected with a loud speaker on 
the stand, which represented central. A mem- 
ber of the audience was requested to dial a 
•amber, and chose 8561-T, the letter T repre- 
senting the exchange. 

This number the spectator dialed on the 
phone Mr. Grace carried. There waa no 
■nod but the clicking of the dial. Then, 
two seconds later, the loudspeaker spoke up 
dearly, m an almost human voice, "8651 T. 

As for the recording of the sound films, 



there is a film for each of the ten Arabic 
numerals from zero to nine, and these wound 
on revolving drums. The dial on the tele- 
phone automatically sets m action the drum 
corresponding to the numeral moved on the 
dial. 

Another development which sounds, prom- 
ising for bashful suitors and other t imi d 
souls, enables a person to store within him- 
self electrically a message be desires to de- 
liver and then to deliver it without speaking, 
simply by putting a finger to the ear of the 
person for whom the message is intended. 

This Mr. Grace demonstrated. He spoke 
into a telephone transmitter and his words 
were clearly heard by all in the awfience? by 
means of amplifiers. At the same time a 
part of the electrical current from the ampli- 
fier, representing the sentence he voiced, was 
stored in a "delay circuit," another recent in- 
vention of the laboratories. After being 
stored four and a half seconds this current 
was transformed to a high voltage and passed 
into Mr. Grace's body. He then put bis fin- 
ger against the ear of a member of the audi- 
ence, who heard in his brain the same sen- 
tence. The ear drum and surrounding tisanes 
are made to act as one plate of a condenser- 
receiver, Mr. Grace explained, with the vibra- 
tions of the drum interpreted by the brain. 

A new magnetic metal, "penninvar," and a 
new insulating material, "para gutta," which 
make possible construction of a telephone 
cable across the Atlantic to supplement the 
radio systems, were also described. Actual 
construction of the cable la expected to be 
started in 1930, Mr. Grace said. 



Tk* flight rffi hoverimg ahovr the first fir +~ ball. 



Earth, the Marauder 

CONCLUSION OF A THREE-PART NOVEL 



By Arthur J. Barks 



CHAPTER XIX 
Desolation 

STRANGER, more thrilling even 
than had been the Sight of the* 
Earth after being^orced out of 
its orbit, was the flight of (hose 
dozen aircara of the Moon, bearing the 
rebels of Dalis' 
Gens back to 
Earth. 

For the light 
which glowed 
from the bodies 



Martian fire-balls and the terrific Mood* 



of the ' rebels, which had been given 
them by their passage through the 
white flames, was transmitted to the 
cars themselves, so that they glowed 
as with an inner radiance of their own 
— like comets flashing across the night 
Strange alchemy, which Sarka won- 
dered about and, wondering, looked 
ahead to the time 
when he should 
be able, within 
his laboratory, to 
analyze the force 
it embodied, and 



EARTH, THE MARAUDER 



409 



thus gain new scientific knowledge of 
untold value to people of the Earth. 

As the cars raced across outer dark- 
ness, moving at top speed, greater than 
ever attained before by man, greater 
than even these mighty cars had trav- 
eled, Sarka looked ahead, and wondered 
about the fearful report his. father had 
just given him. 

That there was an alliance between 
Mars and the Moon seemed almost un- 
believable. How had they managed the 
first contact, the first negotiations 
leading to the compact between two 
such alien peoples? Had there been 
any flights exchanged by the two 
worlds, surely the scientists of Earth 
would have known about it. But there 
had not, though there had been times 
and times when Sarka had peered close- 
ly enough at the surface of both the 
Moon and of .Vara to see the activities, 
or the results of the activities, of the 
peoples of the two worlds. 

Somehow, however, communication, 
if Sarka the Second had guessed cor- 
rectly, hadjieen managed between Mars 
and the Moon ; and now that the Earth 
was a free flying orb the two were in 
alliance against it, perhaps for the same 
reason that the Earth had gone a-voy- 
aging. 

SIDE by side sat Sarka and Jaska, 
their eager eyes peering through 
the forward end of the flashing aircar 
toward the Earth, growing minute by 
minute larger. They were able, after 
some hours, to make out the outlines 
of what had once been continents, to 
see the shadows in valleys which had 
once held the oceans of Earth. . . . 

And always, as they stared and liter- 
ally willed the cubes which piloted and 
were the motive power of the aircars 
to speed and more speed, that marvel- 
ous display of interplanetary fireworks 
which had aroused the concern of Sarka 
the Second. 

What were those lights? Whence 
did they emanate? Sarka the Second 
had said that they came from Mars, 
yet Mars was invisible to those in the 



speeding aircars, which argued that it 
was hidden behind the Earth. There 
was no way of knowing bow close it 
was to the home of these rebels of 
Da lis' Gens. 

And ever, as they flashed forward, 
Sarka was recalling that vague hint on 
the lips of Jaska, to the effect that 
Luar, for all her sovereignty of the 
Moon, might be, nonetheless, a native 
of the Earth. But. . . 

How? Why? When? There were 
no answers to any of the questions yet. 
If she were a native of Earth, how had 
she reached the Moon? When had she 
been sent there? Who was she? Her 
name, Luar, was a strange one, and 
Sarka studied it for many minutes, 
rolling the odd syllables of it over his 
tongue, wondering where, on the Earth, 
he had hear names, or words, similar 
.to it. This produced no result, until he 
tried substituting various letters ; then, 
again, adding vanous letters. When he 
achieved a cettain result at last, he 
gasped, and hiB brain was a-whirl. 

LUAR, by the addition of the letter 
n, between the u and the a, be- 
came Lunar, meaning "of the Moon 1" 
Yet Lunar was unmistakably a word 
derived from the language of the 
Earth I It was possible, of course, that 
this was mere coincidence; but, taken 
in connection with the suspicions of 
Jaska, and the incontrovertible fact 
that Luar resembled people of the 
Earth, Sarka did not believe in this par- 
ticular whim of coincidence. 
Who was Luar? 

His mind went back to the clucking 
sounds which, among the Gnomes of 
the Moon, passed for speech. He pon- 
dered anew. He shaped his lips, as 
nearly as possible, to make the cluck- 
ing sounds he had heard, and discov- 
ered that it was very difficult to man- 
age the letter n! 

The conclusion was inescapable: 
This woman, Luar, had once been Lu- 
nar, the n, down the centuries, being 
dropped because difficult for the Gno- 
mes to pronounce. 



410 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



"Yes, Jaska," he said suddenly, 
"somewhere on Earth, when we reach 
it, we may discover the secret of Luar 
— and know far more about Dalis than 
we have ever known before I" 

Jaska merely smiled her inscrutable 
smile, and did not answer. By intui- 
tion, she already knew. Let Sarka ar- 
rive at her conclusion by scientific 
methods if he desired, and she would 
simply smile anew. 

Sarka thought of the, manner in 
which Jaska and he harf been trans- 
ported to the Moon ; of how much Dalis 
Beemed to know of the secrets of the 
laboratory of the Sarkas. Might he 
not have known, two centuries ago, of 
the Secret Exit Dome, and somehow 
managed to make use o^ it in some 
ghastly experiment? And still the one 
question remained unanswered: Who 
was Luar?' 

THE Earth was now so close that 
details were plainly seen. , The 
Himalayas were out of sight, over the 
Earth, and by a mental command Sarka 
managed to change slightly the course . 
of the dozen aircars. By passing over 
the curve of the Earth at a high al- 
titude, he hoped also to see from above 
something of the result of the strange 
aerial bombardment of which his father 
had spoken. 

In their Bight, which had been, to 
them a flight through the glories of a 
super-heavenly Universe, they had lost 
all count of time. Neither Sarka nor 
Jaska, nor yet the people in those other 
aircars, could have told how long they 
had been flying, when, coming over the 
curve of the Earth, at an elevation of 
something like three miles, they were 
able at last to see into the area which 
had once housed the Gens of Dalis. 

A gasp of horror escaped the lips of 
Sarka and of Jaska. 

The Gens of Dalis had occupied all 
the territory northward to the Pole, 
from a line drawn east and west 
through the southermost of what had 
once been the Hawaiian Islands. Upon 
this area had struck the strange blue 



light from the deep Cone of the Moon, 
Here, however, the light was invis- 
ible, and Sarka flew on in fear that 
somehow his aircars would, blunder 
into it, and be destroyed — for that the 
blue light was an agent of ghastly de- 
struction became instantly apparent 

THE dwellings of the Gens of Dalis 
were broken and smashed into 
chaotic ruins. Over all the area, and 
even into the area of the Gens south- 
ward of that which had been Dalis, the 
blind gods of destruction had practi- 
cally made a clean sweep. Sarka had 
opportunity to thank God that, at the 
time the blue column had struck the 
Earth, it had struck at the spot which 
had been almost emptied of people, 
and realized that blind chance had 
caused it. For, in order for the Gens 
of Dalis to be in position to launch 
their attack against the Moon, he had 
managed, by manipulating the speed 
of the Beryls, to bring that area into 
position directly opposite the Moon. 

Had it been otherwise, the blue col- 
umn might have struck anywhere, and 
wiped out millions of lives I 

"God, Jaska," murmured Sarka. 
"Look I" 

Think of a shoreline, once lined with 
mighty buildings, after the passage of 
a tidal wave greater than ever before 
known to man. The devastation would 
be indescribable. Multiply that shore- 
line by the vast area which had housed 
the Gens of Dalis, and the mental pic- 
ture is almost too big to grasp. Chaos, 
catastrophe, approaching an infinity of 
destruction. 

The materials of which the vast 
buildings, set close together, had been 
made, had been twisted into grotesque, 
nightmarish shapes, and, the whole 
fused into a burned and gleaming mass 
— which covered half of What had once 
been a mighty ocean — as though a bomb 
larger and more devastating than ever 
imagined of man, a bomb large enough 
to rock the Earth, had landed in the 
midst of the area once occupied by the 
Gens of Dalis I 



EARTH, THE MARAUDER 



411 



Yet, Sarka knew, remembering the 
murmuring of the blue column as it 
came out of the cone, all this devasta- 
tion had been caused in almost abso- 
lute silence. People could have watched 
and seen these deserted buildings slow- 
ly fuse together, run together as mol- 
ten metal runs together, like the lava 
from a volcano of long ago under the 
ponderous moving to and fro of some 
invisible, juggemautlike agency. 

SARKA shuddered, trying to picture 
in his mind the massing of the 
minions of Mars, who thus saw a new 
country given into their hands — if they 
could take it. Had the Earth been 
taken by surprise? Had Sarka the 
Second been able to prepare for the 
approaching catastrophe? 

"Father," he sent his thoughts racing 
on ahead of him, "are those lights 
which are striking the Earth causing 
any damage?" 

"Only," came back the instant an- 
swer, "in that they destroy the courage 
of the people of the Earth I The people, 
however, now know that Sarka is re- 
turning, and their courage rises again I 
The flames are merely a hint of what 
faces us; but the people will rise and 
follow you wherever you lead!" 

So, as they raced across the area of 
devastation, the face of Sarka became 
calm again. On a chance, he sent a 
tingle sentence of strange meaning to 
his father. 

"The ruler of the Moon is a woman 
called Luar, which seems a contraction 
of Lunar I" 

For many minutes Sarka the Second 
made no answer. When it came it star- 
tled Sarka to the depths of him, des- 
pite the fact that he had expected to 
be startled. 
"There was a woman named Lunar I" 

CHAPTER XX 
Sarka Commands Again 

AHEAD, through the storms which 
still hung tenaciously to the roof 
of the world, flashed those dozen air- 



cars of the Moon. Now Sarka could 
plainly see the dome of his laboratory, 
and from the depths of him welled up 
that strange glow which Earthlingi 
recognize as the joy of returning home, 
than which there is none, save the love 
for a woman, greater. 

Now he could see the effect of those, 
flares, or lights, from Mars, which im- 
pinged on the face of the Earth, though 
he could see no purpose - in them, no 
reason for their being, since they 
seemed to do no damage at all, though 
the effect of them was weird in the ex- 
treme. 

Outer darkness, rent with ripping, 
roaring storms, flurries of ice, sn^w 
and sleet, shot through and through by 
balls of lambent flames in unguessable 
numbers. Eery lights which struck the 
surface of ' the Earth, bounded away 
and, half a mile or so from the sur- 
face again, burst into flaming pin- 
wheels, like skyrockets of ancient 
times. Strange lights, causing weird 
effects, but producing no damage at all, 
save to lessen to some extent the cour- 
age of Earthlings, because they did not 
understand these things. And always, 
down the ages, man had stood most in 
fear of the Unknown. 

SARKA peered off across the hea- 
vens where a ball of flame now 
seemed to be rising over the horizon, 
and was amazed at the size of this 
planet. Man was close to Earth, so 
close that, had they possessed sircars 
like those of the Moon-people — which 
remained to be seen — they could easily 
have attacked the Earth. 

Across the face of the Earth Sashed 
those fiery will-o'-the-wisps from Mars, 
without rhyme or reason ; yet Sarka 
knew .positively that they possessed 
some meaning, and that the Earth had 
been forced thus close to Mars for a 
purpose. What that purpose was must 
yet be discovered. 

Then, under the aircars, the labora- 
tory of Sarka. 

Down dropped the aircars to a land- 
ing near the laboratory, and to the 



412 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



SaAca 



cubes in the forepeak of each Sa 
sent the mental command : 

"Assure yourselves that the aircars 
will remain where they are I Muster 
inside the laboratory, keeping well 
away from the Master Beryl!" 

Then to the people who had re- 
turned, clothed in strange radiance, 
from the Moon with Sarka and with 
Jaska he spoke: 

"Leave the cars and enter my labora- 
tory, where further orders will be 
given you I" 

With Jaska still by his side, Sarka 
entered the laboratory through the Exit 
Dome. Inside, clothing was swiftly 
brought for the rebels, for Sarka and 
for Jaska. But, even when they were 
clothed, these people who had come 
back seemed to glow with an inner ra- 
diance which transfigured them. 

Sarka the Second, his face drawn and 
pale, came from the Observatory to 
meet his son, and the two were clasped 
in each other's arms for a moment 
Sarka the Second, who had looked no 
older than his son, seemed to have aged 
a dozen centuries in the time Sarka 
Bad been gone. 

But it was not of the threatened at- 
tack by Martians that Sarka the Sec- 
ond spoke. He made no statement. He 
merely asked a question : 

"Was Lunar very beautiful, and just 
a bit unearthly in appearance?" 

SARKA started. 
"Yes. Beautiful I Wondrously, 
fearfully beautiful ; but I had the feel- 
ing {hat she had no heart or soul, no 
conscience; that she was somehow — 
well, bestial V 

A moan anguish escaped Sarka the 
Second. 

"Dalis again I" he ejaculated. "But 
much of the fault was mine) Before 
you were born, we scientists of Earth 
had already several times realized the 
necessity of expansion for the children 
of Earth if they were to continue. 
Dalis' proposal to my father was dis- 
carded, because it involved the whole- 
sale taking of life. But after the 



oceans had been obliterated, and the 
human family still outgrew- its bounds, 
Dalis came to my father and me with 
still another proposal. It involved i 
strange, other-worldly young woman 
whom he called Lunar I Her family- 
well, nothing^ was known about her, for 
her family could not be traced. Wiped 
out, I presume, in some ipterjamily 
quarrel, leaving her alone. Dalis found 
her, took an interest in her, and the 
very strangeness of her gave him his 
idea, which he brought to my father 
and me. 

"His proposal was somewhat like that 
which you made when we sent the 
Earth out of its orbit into outer space, 
save that Dalis' scheme involved no 
such program. His was simply a pro- 
posal to somehow .communicate with 
the Moon by the use of an interplane- 
tary rocket that should carry a human 
passenger. 

"He put the idea up to this girl. 
Lunar, and she did not seem to care 
one way or another. Dalis was all 
wrapped up in his ideas, and gave the 
girl the name of Lunar, as being sym- 
bolical of his plans for her. Tie coached 
and trained her against the. consumma- 
tion of his plan. We knew something, 
theoretically at least, about the condi- 
tions on the Moon, and everything pos- 
sible was done fot her, to make it fea- 
sible for her to exist on the Moon. My 
error was in ever permitting the ex- 
periment to be made, since if I had ne- 
gatived the idea, Dalis would have gone 
no further I 

"But I, too, was curious, and Lunar 
did not care. Well, the rocket was 
constructed, and shot outward into 
space by a series of explosions. No 
word was ever received from Lunar, 
though it was known that she landed 
on the Moon I 

**T SAY no word was ever received, 
X yet what you have intimated 
proves that Dalis has either been m 
mental communication with her, hoping 
to induce her to send a force against 
the Earth, and assist him in mastering 



EARTH, THE MARAUDER 



413 



the Earth, overthrowing we Sarkaa — • 
—or has been biding his time against 
something of the thing we hare now ac- 
complished." 

This seemed to clear up many things 
for Sarka, though it piled higher upon 
his shoulders the weight of his respon- 
sibilities. The other-worldliness of 
Lunar, called now Luar, explained her 
mastery of the Gnomes, and through 
them the cubes, and her knowledge of 
the omnipotent qualities of the white 
flames of the Moon's core, which 
might have been, it came to Sarka in a 
flash, the source of all life on the Moon 
in the beginning I 

"But father," went on Sarka, "I don't 
see any sense in this aerial bombard- 
ment by Mara t" 

"1 believe," said Sarka the Second 
sadly, "that before another ten hours 
past we shall know the worst there 
is to be known ; but now, son, instead 
of going into attack against the Moon, 
we go into battle against the combined 
forces of Mars and of the Moon I" 

SARKA now took command of the 
forces of the Earth. Swiftly he 
turned to the people of the Gens of 
Dalis who had come back with him. 

"You will be divided into eleven 
equal groups, as nearly as possible. 
Father, will you please arrange the di- 
vision? Each group will be attached 
to the staff of one of the Spokesman of 
the Gens, so that each Spokesman will 
have the benefit of your knowledge - 
with reference to conditions on the 
Moon, Each group will re-enter its 
particular aircar, retaining control of 
the cube in each case, of course, and 
will at once repair to his proper sta- 
tion. Telepathy is the mode of com- 
munication with the cubes, and you 
rule them by your will. Each group, 
when assembled by my father, will 
choose a leader before quitting this 
laboratory, and such leader will remain 
in command of his group, under the 
overlordship of the* Spokesman to 
whom he reports with his group. You 
understand I 



"Your loyalty is unquestioned. You 
will consecrate your lives to the wel- 
fare of the Gens to which you are go- 
ing, since you no longer have a Gens 
of your own I" 

Sarka turned to the cubes, which had 
formed in a line just inside the Emit 
Dome, and issued a mental command to 
the cube th&t-had piloted his aircar 
from the Moon. The cube faded out 
instantly, appearing immediately after- 
ward on the table of the van-colored 
lights. i 

"Father," said Sarka, "while I am is- 
suing orders to the Spokesmen, please 
see if you can discover the secret of 
these cubes : how they are actuated, the 
real extent of their^ intelligence I The 
rest of you, with your cubes, depart 
immediately and report to your new 
Gens!" 

ITHIN ten minutes the divi- 
sions had been made, and the 
Radiant People had entered the air- 
cars and, outside the laboratory, risen 
free of the Earth, and turned, each in 
its proper direction, for the Gens of 
its assignment. The Sarkas and Jaska 
watched diem go. 

There remained but one aircar, 
standing outside on half a dozen of 
those grim tentacles, with two tentacles 
swinging free, undulating to and fro 
like serpents. Harnessed electricity 
actuating the tentacles— cars and ten- 
tacles subservient to the cubes. 

The aircars safely on their way, 
Sarka stepped to the Master Beryl, 
tuned it down to normal speed, and sig- 
nalled the Spokesmen of the Gens. 

"The Moon and Mars are in alliance 
against us, and Dalis has allied himself 
and his Gens with the ruler of the 
Moon I I don't know yet what form the 
attack will take, but know this: that 
the safety of the world, of all its 
people, rests in your hands, and that 
the war into which we are going is po- 
tentially more vast than expected when 
this venture began, and more devastat- 
ing than the fight with the aircars of 
the Moon I Coming to you, in aircars 



w 



414 ^ 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



which we managed to take from the 
Moon-people, are such of the people 
of the Gena of Dalis as were able to 
return with me. Question them, gather 
all the information yon can about them, 
and through them keep control of the 
cubes which pilot the air cars, for in 
the cubes, I believe, lies the secret of 
our possible victory in the fight to 
come I" 

SARKA scarcely knew why he had 
spoken the last sentence. It was 
as though something deep within him 
had risen up, commanded him to speak, 
and deeper yet, far back in his con- 
sciousness, was a mental picture of the 
devastation he had witnessed on his 
Bight above the area that had once 
housed the Gens of Dalis. 

For in that ghastly area, he believed, 
was embodied an idea greater than mere 
wanton destruction, just as there was 
an idea back of the fiery lights from 
Mars greater than mere display. Some- 
how the two were allied, and Sarka be- 
lieved that, between the blue column, 
and the fiery lights Worn Mars, the fate 
of the world rested. 

He could, he believed, by manipula- 
tion of the Beryls that yet remained, 
maneuver the world away from that 
blue column — which on the Earth was 
invisible. But to have done so would 
have thwarted the very purpose for 
which this mad voyage had been be- 
gun. The world had been started on 
its mad journey into space for the pur- 
pose of attacking and colonizing the 
Moon and Mars. 

The Moon had been colonized by the 
Gens of Dalis, already in potential re- 
volt against the Earth. Mars was next, 
and by forcing the Earth into close 
proximity to Mars the people of the 
Moon had played into the hands of 
Earth-people — if the people of Earth 
were capable of carrying out the pro- 
,gram of expansion originally proposed 
by Sarka! 

If they were not . . well, Sarka 
thought somewhat grimly, the tcsuI- 
tant cataclysmic war would at least 



solve the problem of over-populationl 
Inasmuch as the Earth was already 
committed to whatever might transpire, 
Sarka believed he should take a philo- 
sophic vjew of the matter I 
ft 

SARKA turned to ari examination of 
the Master Beryl, and even as he 
peered into the depths of it, he thought 
gratefully how nice it was to be home 
again, in his own laboratory, upon the 
world of, his nativity. He even found 
it within his heart to feel somewhat 
sorry for Dalis, and to feel ashamed 
that he had, even in his heart, mistreat- 
ed htiw * 

Then he thought, with a tightening 
of his jaw muscles, of the casual way 
in which Dalis had destroyed Sarka 
the First, of his forcing his people to 
undergo the terrors of the lake of white 
names without telling them the simple 
secret ; of his betrayal of the Earth in 
his swift alliance with Luar; or Luar 
herself when, as Lunar, a strange waif 
of Earth, Dalis had sent her out as the 
first human passenger aboard a rocket 
to the Moon. All his pity vanished, 
though he still believed he had done 
right in sparing Dalis' life. 

Suddenly there catne an ominooi 
humming in the Bery$, and simultane- 
ously signals from the van -colored 
lights on the table. Sarka whirled to 
the lights, noting their color, and men- 
tally repeating the names of the 
Spokesmen who signalled him. 

Even before he gave the signal that 
placed him in position to converse with 
them, he noted the strange coincidence. 
The Spokesmen who desired speech 
with him were tutelary heads of Geni 
whose borders touched the derated, 
area where Dalis had but recently been 
overlord I 

An icy chill caressed his spine as he 
signalled the Spokesmen to speak. 

"Yes, Vardee? Prull? Klaier* 
Cleric r 

THE report of each of them was 
substantially the same, though 
couched in different words, words 



EARTH, THE MARAUDER 



415 



freighted heavily with strange terror. 

The devasted area has suddenly 
broken into movement I Throughout 
that portion of it visible from my Gens 
area, the fused mass of debris is bub*" 
Ming, fermenting, walking into Ufel 
An dura of unearthly menace seems 
to flow outward from this heaving 
mass, and the whole is assuming a most 
peculiar radiance— cold gleaming, like 
distant starshine I" 

"Wait I" replied Sarka swiftly. "Wait 
until the people I nave sent you have 
arrived I Report to me instantly if the 
movement of the mass is noticeably 
augmented, and especially so if it 
seems to be breaking up, or coagulating 
into any sort of form whatever I" 

Then he dimmed the lights, indicat- 
ing that for the moment there was 
nothing more to be said. Just then his 
father, face very gray and very old, 
entered the room of the Master Beryl 
from the laboratory. 

"Son P he said. "The crisis is almost 
upon us I The Martians are coining I" 

CHAPTER XXI 
Cooes of Chaos 

SARKA raced into the Observatory, 
wandering as he ran how the at- 
*tack of the Martians would manifest 
itself; but scarcely prepared for the 
brilliant display which greeted his 
case. Compared to the oncoming 
flames from Mars, the preceding dis- 
play of lights had been as nothing. The 
whole Heavens between the Earth and 
Mars seemed alight with an unearthly 
glare, as though the very heart of the 
can had burst and hurled part of its 
flaming mass outward into space. 
On it came with unbelievable speed. 
Bat there was no telling, yet, the 
form of the things which were coining. 

"What are they?" whispered Jaska, 
■landing fearlessly at Sarka's aide. 
"Interplanetary cars? Rockets? Balls 
of fire? Or beings of Mars?" 

"I think," said Sarka, after studying 
the display for a few minutes, that they 
aas cither rockets or fireballs, perhaps 



both together! Bat the Martians can- 
not consolidate any position on the 
Earth without coming to handgrips. 
Since they most know this, we can ex- 
pect to see the people of Mars them- 
selves, when, or soon after, those balls 
of fire strike the Earth I" 

Sarka raced back to the room of the 
Master Beryl as a strident humming 
came through to him. 

THE Spokesmen of the Gens whose 
borders touched those of the de- 
vasted Dalis area, were reporting again, 
and their voices were high pitched with 
fear that threatened to break the 
bounds of sanity. 

"The ferment in the devasted area." 
was the gist of their report, "is assum- 
ing myriads of shapes I The fused mass 
has broken up into isolated masses, and 
each mass of itself is assuming one of 
the many forms I" 

"What forms?" snapped Sarka. 
"Quickly I" 

"Cubes I Thousands and millions of 
cubes, and the cubes themselves are 
forming into larger cubes, some square, 
some rectangular I In the midst of 
these formations are others, mostly 
columnar, each column consisting of 
cubes which have coalesced into the 
larger form from the same small cubes) 
The columnar formations are topped 
by globes which emit an ethereal ra- 
diance r 

"Listen I" Sarka's voice was vibrant 
with excitement. "Spokesmen of the 
Gens, make sure that every individual 
member of your Gens is fully equipped 
with flying clothing, including belts 
and ovoids— prepared for an indefinite 
stay outside on the roof of the world I 
Get your people out swiftly, keeping 
them in formation I Keep about you 
those people of Dalis whom I sent you, 
and understand before you break con- 
tact with your Beryls, that instructions 
received from these people come from 
me I In turn, after you have quitted the 
hives, anything you wish to say to me 
you can repeat to any one of the glow- 
ing people of Dalis l"f 



416 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



The contacts were broken. Sarka 
stared into the Beryl, glancing swiftly 
in all directions, to see whether his or- 
ders were obeyed. 

Out of the myriads of hives were fly- 
ing the people of all the Gens of Earth, 
their vast numbers already darkening 
the roof of the world. The advance 
fires from Mars seemed to have no ef- 
fect on them, which Sarka had ex- 
pected, since the fires seemed to con- 
sume nothing they had touched previ- 
ously. 

BY millions the people came forth. 
People dressed in the clothing of 
this Gens or that, wearing each the in- 
signia of the house of his Spokesman. 
A brave show. Sarka could see the 
faces of many, now in light, now in 
shadow, as the advance fires of Mars 
lighted them for a moment in passing, 
then left them in shadow as the burst- 
ing balls of fire faded and died. 

Strange, too, that the fireballs made 
no noise. Noiseless flame which re- 
bounded from the surface of the Earth 
broke in silence, deluging the heavens 
with shooting stars of great brilliance. 
Through its display flew the people of 
the Gens, mustering in flight above 
flight, each to his own level, under 
command of the Spokesmen of the 
Gens. 

"How long, father," queried Sarka, 
"should it take to empty the Gens 
areas?" 

"The people of Earth have been wait- 
ing for word to go into battle since 
we first sent the people of Dalis against 
the Moon-men. They still are ready! 
The dwellings of our people, Jkll of 
them, can be emptied within an hour I" 

"I wonder," mused Sarka, "if that is 
soon enough I" 

Perhaps yes, perhaps no. It would 
be a race, in any case. Sarka divided 
his attention between the rapidly 
changing formations of the Moon-cubes 
in that devasted area, and the onrush- 
ing charge of the fire-balls from Mars. 
All were visible to him through the 
Master Beryl, and from the Observa- 



tory, though the Martian fireballs were 
now so close that the vanguard of 
them could even be seen in the Master 
Beryl, adjusted to view only .activities 
on the surface of the Earth. 

Even as the last flights of the Gem 
of Earth were slipping into the icy air 
" from the roof of the world, the Moon- 
cubes began their terrifying, appalling 
attack, every detail of which could be 
seen by Sarka from the Master BeryL 

THOSE columns, composed of. 
cubes, seemed to be the leaden of 
a vast cube-army. The top of each of 
them was a gleaming globe whose eery 
light played over the country immedi- 
ately surrounding each column, their 
weird light reflected in' the squares, rec- 
tangles and globes that other cubes had 
formed. V 

Sarka sought swiftly among the col- , 
limns for the one' which might con- 
ceivably be in supreme command; but 
even as he sought the Moon-cobei 
moved to the attack. The globes on 
the tops of the columns dimmed their 
lights, and the squares, rectangles and 
globes got instantly into terrible mo- 
tion. 

Southward from the position in 
which they had formed they began to 
move, the squares and rectangles ap- 
parently sliding along the surface of 
the scarred and broken soil, the globes 
rolling. 

Southward there was the vast wall of 
( the Gens that bordered the devasted 
area in that direction, and the cube- 
army was instantly at full charge to- 
ward this, in what Sarka realized waf 
to be a war of demolition I 
" Within a minute, Sarka was con- 
scious of a trembling of all the labora- 
tory, and the eyes of Jaska were wide 
with fear. Swiftly the trembling grew, 
until sound now was added to the vast, 
awesome tremor — a vast, roaring cres- 
cendo of sound that mounted and 
mounted as the speed of the cube-army 
increased. The vanguard of the cube- 
army struck the dwelling of the Gens 
southward of that of Dalis, and ■ 



EARTH, THE MARAUDER 



417 



mighty, rocketing roar sounded in the 
Master Beryl, was audible inside the 
laboratory, even without the aid of the 
Beryl, at whose surface Sarka stared 
as a man fascinated, hypnotized. 

THE cube-army struck the dwell- 
ings, disappeared into them as 
though they had been composed of 
tissue paper, and continued on I Over 
the tops of the cube-army toppled the 
roofs of the dwellings, there, in the 
midst of the cubes, to be ground to 
powder, with a sound as of a million 
avalanches grinding together in some 
awesome, sun-size valley. Southward, 
in the wake of the chaotic charge, 
moved a mighty, gigantic crevasse, 
whose sides were the walls of the hives 
left standing. And still the cube-army 
moved in, grinding everything it 
touched to dust, trampling buildings 
into nothingness, destroying utterly 
along a front hundreds of miles wide, 
and as deep as the dwellings of men I 
"God I" cried Sarka, his voice so 
tense that both his father and Jaska 
heard it above the roaring which shook 
and rocked the world. "Do you see? 
The Moon-cubes are destroying the 
dwelling of our people, and the Mar- 
tians are to destroy the people who 
have fledr 

There must be a way," said Sarka 
the Second quietly, "to circumvent the 
cubes I But what? Your will still 
rules the cubes which piloted you from 
the Moon?" 

"Yes," replied Sarka tersely, "but 
there are only a dozen of the cubes.. 
What can they do against countless 
millions of them? Cubes which are 
Moon-cubes, brought to the Earth in 
the heart of that blue column, here re- 
formed to create an army which is in- 
vincible, because it cannot be slain I It 
means that the Moon-people them- 
selves, thousands of miles out of our 
reach, have but to sit in comfort and 
watch their cube-slaves destroy ust 
When they have laid waste the Earth, 
the Martians have but to finish the 
fight r 



"TF, beloved," said Jaska, "your will 
X commands those twelve cubes, it 
can also command all the others, for 
they must be essentially the same. Call 
on the rebels of Dalis to help you I" 

"Then what of the Spokesmen of the 
Gens, who will be out of contact with 
me?" 

"They must stand on their own feet, 
must fight their own battle I Call to 
you the people who have passed 
through the white flames, and fight with 
the distant will of Luar and of Dalis 
fbr control of the* cube-army I" 

Again that exaltation, which con- 
vinced him he could move mountains 
with his two hands, coursed through 
the being of Sarka. 

Quietly he answered Jaska. 

"I believe you lare right," he said 
softly. "Those of us who have passed 
through the flames which bore these 
Moon-cubes will control the cubes/ 
even bend them to our will. The 
Spokesmen must vanquish the Martians 
or perish I" 

Then he sent his mental commands 
to the Spokesmen: 

"Meet the Martians when they ar- 
rive and destroy or drive them back I 
You live only if you win! We speak 
no more until victory is ourst People 
of the Gens of Dalis, go to the areas 
being devasted by the cubes, taking 
your cubes and aircars with you, and 
I will join you there 1 And Jaska with 
met" 

Sarka had not himself mentally 
spoken the last four words. Jaska had 
thought-spoken them, before he could 
prevent. He turned upon her, lips 
shaping a command that she remain 
behind. But she forestalled him. 

"I, too, have been through the white 
flames I You may have need of all of 
us I" 

CHAPTER XXII 
The Struggle for Mastery 

THE people of all the dens of 
Earth were now between two-fires. 
The cube-army, ruled by the mi siren 



418 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



of the 'Moon, was laying waste the 
dwellings of the Gens, destroying 
them with a speed and surety of which 
no earthquake, whatever its propor- 
tions, would have been capable. The 
Gens were forced out upon the roof 
of the world! — where, scarcely had they 
maneuvered into their prearranged 
formations, than the Martians struck. 

Those huge balls of fire, larger even 
than the aircars of the Moon, landed 
in vast and awe-inspiring numbers on 
the roof of the world — landed easily, 
with no apparent effort or shock. The 
light of them made all the world a 
place of vast radiance, save only that 
portion which was being destroyed by 
the cube-army, and this area had a cold, 
chill radiance of its own. 

By groups and organizations the fire- 
balls of Mars landed, and rested quies- 
cent on the surface of the globe. 

Sarka, pausing only long enough in 
his laboratory to study this strange at- 
tack and to discover how it would get 
under way, was at the same time pre- 
paring to go forth to take his own 
strange part in the defensive action 
of Earthlings. A vast confidence was 
in him. . . . 

"We will lose millions of people, 
father," he said softly. "But it will 
end in our victory, in the most glorious 
war ever fought on this Earth I" 

"That is true, my son I" replied the 
older man sadly. 

FOR several minutes the vast fire- 
balls, which seemed to be monster 
glowing octagons, rested where they 
had landed, and even then the Gens of 
the people were closing on them, bring- 
ing their ray directors and atom-dis- 
integrators into action. 

Then, when the Earthlings would 
have destroyed the first of the vast fire- 
balls — and Sarka was noting that the 
flames which bathed the balls seemed 
to have no effect whatever on Earth- 
lings, save to outline them in mantles 
of fire — the fire-balls wakened to new 
life. 

They opened like the halves of 



peaches falling apart, and oat upon the 
roof of the world poured die first Mar- 
tians Earth had ever seen I 

They were more than twice the size, 
on the average, of Earth people, and 
at first glance seemed to resemble them 
Very much, save that their eyes, of 
which each Martian was possessed of 
two, were set on the ends of long ten- 
tacles which could stretch forth to a 
length of two feet or more from the 
eye-sockets and thus be turned in' any 
direction. Each eye was independent 
of its neighbor, as one could look for- 
ward while the other looked backward, 
or one could look right while the other 
looked left. 

Each Martian possessed two arms on 
each side of a huge, powerful torso, 
and legs that were like the bolls of 
trees, compared to the slender limbs 6f 
Earthlings. All the Martians seemed 
to be dressed in the skins of strange, 
vari-colored beasts. Each carried in his 
upper right hand a slender canelike 
thing some three feet in length, from 
whose tip there flashed those spurts of 
flame which had puzzled the Earth 
people before the actual launching of 
the attack. 

BEYOND these weapons, the Hai- 
tians seemed to possess no wea- 
pons of offense at all, nor of defense. 

"With our ray directors and atom- 
disintegrators," said Sarka, moving 
into the Exit Dome with Jaska, "we 
can blast them from the face of the 
Earth I" 

• But in a moment he realized that he 
had spoken too hastily. 

The nearest fire-ball was, of course, 
within the area of the Gens of Cleric, 
and Sarka could here see with nil 
naked eyes all that transpired. The 
Martian passengers, who moved swift- 
ly away from their fire-ball vehicles, 
than a flight of the Gens of Cleric de- 
scended upon the fireball and its flee- 
ing passengers, with tiny ray directors 
and / atom-disintegrators held to the 
fora, ready for action. 

*fhe Martians, at some distance from 



EARTH. THE 

/ 

4ttir glowing vehicle, paused and 
formed a/ragged line, facing the ball, 
(taring at the descending people of the 
Gens of Cleric, their tentaclelike eyes 
waring to and fro, oddly like the ten- 
tacles of those sircars of the Moon. 

The flight was hovering above the 
first fireball. In a second now, at the 
command of an underling, the ray di- 
rectors would destroy fire-ball and Mar- 
tians as thoroughly as though they had 
never existed at all. 

BUT then a strange thing hap- 
pened. At that exact moment, 
timing their actions to fractions of sec- 
onds, the Martians raised and pointed 
their canelike weapons of the spurt- 
ing names. They pointed them, how- 
ever, not at the Earthlings, but at the 
fire-ball which had brought them to 
Earth I 

Instantly the fire-ball exploded as 
with the roaring of a hundred mighty 
volcanoes — and the descending flight 
of the Gens of Cleric was blasted into 
countless fragments I Bits of them flew 
in all directions. Many dropped, the 
mangled, infinitesmal remains of them, 
down to the roof of Earth, while many 
were nnrled skyward through forma- 
tions above them — while those forma- 
tions, to a height of a full two miles, 
were broken asunder. Many flights 
above that first flight were smashed and 
broken, their individual members 
hurled in all directions by that one 
tingle blast of a single fire-ball. 

Individuals who escaped destruction 
were hurled end over end, upward' 
through other flights higher above, a$d 
the whole aggregation of flights which 
had been concentrated on that first fire- 
ball was instantly demoralized, while 
full fifty per cent of its individuals 
were instantly torn to bits I 

Sarka groaned to the depths of him. 

"The leader of the Martians, or the 
mister who sent them here, sent them 
here to win. For if they do not win, 
they cannot return to Mars, as they will 
have destroyed their vehicles! Their 
confidence is superhuman I" 



MARAUDER 419 

"Have faith in the courage of Earth- 
lings, son!" said Sarka. 

It was much to ask, for if one single 
one of these fire-balls could wreak such 
havoc with the people of Earth, what 
would be the destruction by the count- 
less other unexploded fireballs of the 
Martians ? 

STILL, the Spokesmen themselves 
must discover a way to hold their 
own, to win against the Martians. For 
Sarka there was greater work to do. 
He must oppose the wills of Luar and 
of Dalis in a mighty mental conflict, 
which would decide whether the homes 
of men would be saved, or utterly de- 
stroyed by the Moon-cubes. 

But as he left through the Exit 
Dome, with Jaska by his side, he shud- 
dered, and was just a little sick inside 
as he saw the fearful result of that first 
explosion of a Martian fire-ball! Bits 
of human wreckage were scattered over 
the Earth for a > great distance in all 
directions from where the fire-ball had 
exploded. And at that spot a gigantic 
crater had been torn in the roof of the 
world, going down to none knew what 
depths. 

Even the Martians, here only to con- 
solidate positions which had passed the 
demolition of the Moon-cubes, were 
capable of demolitions almost as ghast- 
ly and complete as those of the cubes! 

The sound was incapable of being 
described, for outside the laboratory 
the sound of the advance of the Moon- 
cubes eating into the dwellings of men, 
tumbling them down, grinding them to 
powder, was cataclysmic in its mighty 
volume. A million express trains crash- 
ing head-on into walls of galvanized 
iron at top speed, simultaneously. 

Ear-drum crashing blows aB fireballs 
exploded. The screams and shrieks of 
maimed and dying Earthlings— of 
Earnings unwounded but possessed 
of abysmal fear. 

THEN, resolutely, Sarka turned his 
back on the conflict between the 
Martians and the people of Earth, and 



420 ASTOUND! 

hurtled across the devastated roof of 
the world toward that area which was 
feeling the destructive force of the 
vandal cube-army. As he flew, Jaska 
keeping pace with him in silence, his 
mind was busy. 

Passage through the white flames of 
the Moon had given him the key. 
Those white flames — source of all life 
on the Moon — rendered almost godlike 
those whom it bathed . . gave them 
unbelievable access of mental brilliance 
were the source of that blue col- 
umn which had forced the Earth out- 
ward toward Mars . . . were the source, 
in some "way, of the cubes themselves, 
as he and Jaska, after passing through 
them, owed their now near-divinity to 
the same white flames I Those flames 
had made Luar mistress of the Moon — 
therefore of the Gnomes and of the 
cubes I Therefore, Sarka, having been 
bathed in the flames, should make him- 
self master of the cubes, if he could 
out-will the combined determinations 
of Luar and of Dalis I 

His confidence was supreme as he 
fled through outer darkness toward the 
eery light whicfcj came from the area of 
demolitions. Looking ahead, he could 
see tiny glows in the sky, which he 
knew to be the rebels of Dalis' Gens, 
flying to keep their rendezvous with 
him. 

Higher mounted his courage and his 
confidence as he approached the roar- 
ing CEash, perpetual and always mount- 
ing. Which showed hijn where the cube- 
army was busiest. The sound vibrated 
the very air, causing the bodies of Sar- 
ka to tingle wijh it, causing them to 
flutter and shake in their flight with 
its awesome power. But they did not 
hold back, flew onward through the 
gloom, leaving behind them the bright- 
ly lighted areas where Gens of Earth 
battled with the fireballs of the Mar- 
tians, moving into the area of the eery 
glowing of the cubes. 

TUST as he approached the spot 
I where mighty dwellings were rum- 
bling before the march of the cuoe- 



G STORIES 

1 

army, he sent a single command to- 
ward the cube which had piloted him 
from the Moon. 

"Come to me on the edge of the 
crevasse nearest the place of most de- 
struction I" 

Would the cube now be subservient 
to his will ? He wondered. Everything 
depended upon that. If not, then he 
might as well try to stay the forces of 
a mighty avalanche with his breath, u 
halt the cube-army with his will. 

But strangely enough, the closer he 
came to the vast area of tumbling 
dwellings the calmer he became, the 
more sure that he would win against 
the cubes. 

For when he landed at the lip of the 
crevasse, across which he could look 
for a hundred miles, a single cube 
gleamed brightly almost, at his feet, 
awaiting his orders! 

One by one, by twos, threes, fours, 
dozens, came the glowing people who 
had been bathed in the white flames of 
the Moon's life-source, and as each 
dropped down beside him, Sarka gave 
a command. 

"Drop down in the midst of the 
cubes I Make your own cube the rally- 
ing point for this vast army of cubes, 
force the cubes Jo desist in their mighty 
destruction, be subservient to your will 
— and do you, each of you, be subser- 
vient to my will 1' ' 

AWAY dropped the rebels, glow- 
ing points of white flame, drop- 
ping down the sides of the crevasse, a 
mighty, awesome canyon, into the very 
heart of the activity of the cubes, and 
from the brain of Sarka, aided by the 
will of Jaska, went forth a simple com- 
mand: 

"Cease your march of destruction, 0 
Moon-cubes, and harken to the will of 
Sarka, your master!' Draw back from 
your labors, and muster, not as squares, 
rectangles and columns, but as indi- 
vidual cubes, in the area already devas- 
tated by you I Rally about the glowing 
people who have passed through the 
flames which were your Moon -mother. 



EARTH, THE MARAUDER 



421 



.md wait for orders! Take no farther 
heed of commands from Dalis and 
luarr 

Instantly it seemed to Sarka that he 
hid drawn into some invisible vortex 
which tore at his brain, at his body, at 
his soul. Inside him a cold voice 
teemed to say: 

"Fool, Sarka! My will is greater 
than yours I" 

But though the force of the will of 
Luar, whose thought he recognized, 
tore at him, almost shriveled the soul 
and brain of him with its might, he 
continued to send his thought-com- 
mand out to the Moon-cubes, forcing 
it through the wall of Luar's will, hurl- 
ing it like invisible projectiles at the 
cube-army below. 

Exultation possessed him, buoyed 
him up, gave .him greater courage and 
confidence as the moments passed for 
even as all his being concentrated on 
the will-command to the cubes, his 
tenses told him that the mighty sound 
of destruction was dying away, fading 
out 

SLOWER now the dwellings fell, 
slower moved the Moon-cubes ; and 
as they slowed in their mighty march 
through the dwellings of men, so in- 
creased the confidence, the power of 
will, of Sarka and his people — the 
rebels of the Gens of Dalis. 

Then, after an hour, whose mighty 
mental conflict had bathed Sarka in 
the perspiration of superhuman effort, 
the sound of destruction ceased all to- 
gether, and the dwellings ceased to fall. 
A silent shout, like an inborn paean 
f rejoicing, surged through Sarka as 
e noted the retreat from the dwellings 
of men, of the Moon-cubes I Back and 
back retreated the squares and the rec- 
tangles, the columns and the globes, 
"breaking apart as they retreated. 

Within fifteen minutes after the de- 
struction had ceased, millions of gleam- 
ing cubes winked upward from the bot- 
tom of the crevasse — motionless, quies- 
cent! 

Sarka tent forth another thought. 



"I am your master, O cubes of the 
Moon!" 

No sound, no movement, answered 
him. 

"Luar and Dalis are no longer able 
to command you I" 

Still no sound or movement of the 
cubes. 

THEN, taking a deep breath, as of 
a swimmer preparing to dive into 
icy water, Sarka gave a new command. 

"Dissolve! Reform on the roof of 
the world in globes! Roll over the 
face of the Earth, destroy the fire-balls 
of Mars" — and take prisoners, inside the 
globes, the attackers from Mars I" 

Instantly the gleaming cubes van- 
ished, and darkness as of a mighty pit 
possessed the crevasse of destruction. 
Then, at the lip of the great crevasse, 
the cubes swept into form — myriads of 
globes which gleamed with the cold 
blue brilliance of the Moon! 

They had no sooner formed as globes 
than they were in action again, rolling 
over the roof of the world as with a 
rising crescendo of thunder tumbling 
down the night-black sky. So mighty 
was their rush that the roof of the 
world trembled and shook. 

Above their charge raced Sarka and 
Jaska, and with them the rebels of the 
Gens of Dalis. 

All were present when the cubes 
crashed into the fire-balls from Mars, 
swept the Martians within themselves 
as prisoners, held them securely — and 
continued on, destroying the fire-balls 
in myriads. Here and there fire-balls 
exploded on contact, destroying the 
globes, which immediately reformed 
again, as though the explosions had not 
been felt at all. 

SARKA had won the allegiance of 
the Moon-cubes, which bad defeat- 
ed and taken prisoners the Martians, 
destroying the vehicles in which they 
might have returned to Mars. And as 
realization came, darkness settled over 
the roof of the world; the last flare of 
Mars faded and died. 



422 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



This done, the cubes formed in 
mighty rows, facing the laboratory of 
Sarka. His heart beating madly with 
exultation, Sarka studied them. Then 
he stepped )otb the Observatory, gazed 
away across the space which separated 
the Earth from the Moon, sent a men- 
tal message winging outward. 

"Luarl Dalis!" 

Faintly, fearfully, came the answer. 

"We hear, O Sarka I" 

"Shift the blue column away from 
the Earth I Do' not interfere as we re- 
turn to our orbit about the sun.) Obey, 
or I combine the total knoWledge of 
Mars, the Earth, and the Moon in an 
attack against you and your Martian 
ally I Inform your ally that their 
people will not return, that the Earth 
has need of them — but that two Gens 
of Earth will be received by Martians 
in perfect amity, and these Gens al- 
lowed biding places on Mars I Unless 
your ally obeys, the Martians in my 
hands will be destroyed I" 

In an hour the answer came,' the 
snarling thought-answer of Dalis. 

"We hear I We obey I But Dalis is 
never .beaten while he lives I His day 
will come!" 

SARKA found himself feeling even 
a little sorry for sorely beaten 
Dalis ; but his face was grim as he sent 
another command to the people of 
Dalis who had passed through the 
life-source of the Moon. 



"Take command of the cubes, tod 
force them to repair the damage which 
has been done to the dwellings of mea 
— to repair them completely, over all 
the face of the Earth P 

As the glowing people hurried to 
obey, Sarka softly asked his father: 

"But what shall we do with the Mar- 
tians?" 

Sarka the Second smiled. 

"Release them and send them to the 
lowest level where, guarded by the 
cubes, they will be set to constructing 
fireballs like those in which they ar- 
rived for the use of Earth if Dalis, or 
the Martians, ever attack again I And, 
son. . 

"Yes, O my father ?" said Sarka 
softly. 

"I have another suggestion for the 
employment of the cubes I Let them 
build aircars to be used by the Gens 
of Prull and of Klaser, as transporta- 
tion to Mars whenever you are ready 
for them to goP 

Sarka smiled boyishly, happily. 

"Yes, O my father; and is there any- 
thing else?" 

"Yes I Take Jaska as your mate! Do 
you not see that she is waiting for yon 
to speak/" 

Sarkar turned to Jaska, whose face 
was glorious in her surrender, and 
,whose lips were parted in a loving 
smile — which faded only when Sarka'i 
lips caressed it away. 

(The end.) 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 

Appears on Newsstands 
THE FIRST THURSDAY IN EACH MONTH 



? ,C jReac/ers Cornc 



BsssaV 

m 




^zj^eeting Place for /Readers o£~ 
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From Australia 
Dear Editor: 

I am taking the privilege of writing to you 
in an endeavor to show ray appreciation of 
your magazine Astounding Stories. 

Although I am an inveterate reader I must 
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that though I am ignorant of the intricacies 
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to my reading your first issue) same is de- 
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fully understanding exactly what the author 
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Have pleasure of informing you that 
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the different stories included in your maga- 



-ure you of my whole-hearted support 
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Mr. Neal's Favorites 

Dear Editor: 

The other day I saw Astounding Stories 
on one of the newsstands. I purchased it, and 
after reading "Brigands of the Moon" I 
eagerly finished the rest of the magazine. I 
did not like "Out of the Dreadful Depths." 
In my opinion it should not be in a Science 
Fiction magazine. The only thing the mat- 
ter with your magazine is that it ia too small. 
I would like to read some stories in "our" 
magazine by Ed Earl Repp, David H. Kel- 
ler, M. D., Miles J. Brewer M. D., and Stan- 
ton Coblentz.— Francis Neal, R. R. 4, Box 105, 
Kokomo, Ind. 

No Ghost Stories 

\ 

Dear Editor: 

I received your April issue snd I think it ia 
the best yet. I have but one complaint to 
make, and that is your magazine seems to 
print some good science stones, but also has 
some stories which do not belong in a Science 
Fiction magazine. They might come under 
the name of weird tales. Is your magazine 
devoted to pure 100 per cent. Science Fic- 
tion? If so, I think you ought to leave out 
the ghost stories. — Louis Weozxler, 1031 
Woodbine St., Brooklyn. N. Y. 



423 



424 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



From the Other Sex 

Dear Editor: 

Youll be surprised to bear from a girl, as 
I notice only boys wrote to praise your new 
magazine. I tried* reading some of the 
Science Fiction magazines my brother buys 
every month but I'd start reading a story 
only to leave it unfinished. But your maga- 
zine is different. When I picked it up to 
read it I thought I'd soon throw it down 
and read something *elsc, bat the moment I 
started to read one of the stories of your 
raew magazine I read it to the finish. I never 
read such vivid and exciting stories. Even 
my brother who loves all kinds of Science 
Fiction magazines couldn't stop praising your 
new magazine. He said Astounding Stories 
beats them all 

Some of our readers criticized your new 
magazine, and I haven't anything but dis- 
agreement for them. Yet, who am I, to judge 
persons who have read and know all about 
Science Fiction? 

Will recommend your new magazine to all 
my friends. — Sue O'Bara, 13440 Barley Ave_' 
Chicago, Illinois. 

January Issue Was First 

Dear Editor: 

I have just finished reading the April issue 
of "our" magazine. Can mere words de- 
scribe my feelings? I am classing the stories 
as follows: A — excellent; B — very good; 
C — good; D — passable; E— poor. 

A— "Monsters of Moyen," "Vampires of 
Venus," "The Ray of Madness," 'The Soul- 
Sua tc her." 

B— "The Man Who Was Dead." 

C — None. D — None. E — None. 

"Brigands of the Moon" is getting more 
and more interesting. Can you please tell me 
which month's issae was the first, one, as I 
didn't procure the first two copies and should 
like to do so?— Eli Meltzer, 1466 Coney Island 
Ave, Brooklyn, N. Y. 

"Eclipses Air 

Dear Editor: 

Just as soon as your new magazine came 
oat I espied it. It eclipsed sH the other mag- 
azines on the stand. As a cub magazine I 
couldn't ask for more. 

I am going to comment on your stories 
now because I know you want me too, for 
I know you would like to know what sort 
of stories your readers like. 

I have a lot to ssy about Ray Cummings. 
He is the best writer I have ever seen. His 
stories couldn't be beat "Phantoms of Re- 
ality*' was a corking good story, but I believe 
bis new serial, "Brigands of the Moon, is 
going to be better. Captain S. P. Meek is 
s very good writer also. I take immense joy 
hi bis Dr. Bird stories. And we must not for- 
get that great writer, Murray Lcinster. His 
stories are really good. 

I congratulate yon on your new magsrinr, 
Mr. Editor.— Albert Philbrick, \\1 N. Spring 
Wty Springfield, Ohio. 



m A Unique Magazine" 

Dear Editor; 

I've been 'trying to write your msgazins 
tor a long tUne, so here goes. 

I've bought every copy from the first Usae 
and sure think it is a good magazine. In fact 
I should say a unique magazine; there are bat 
few magazines in its class* among Science 
Fiction magazines. The stories come up to 
the standards of good Science Fiction, sad 
some go far above it. A f rw stories I did 
not like were: "The Man Who Was Dead," 
"The Soul Snatcher," 'The: Corpse on the 
Grating** and 'The Stolen Mind. The sci- 
ence in all these stories was very poor. Bat 
your magazine became better in my eye* 
when you published "Phantoms of Reality," 
"Tanks," "Old Crompton'fj Secret," "Brig, 
ands of the Moon," "Monsters of Moyen," 
and all of Captain S. P. Meesfs stories. These 
were extraordinarily good stpries. 

W case's drawings are very good, and I 
hope you keep him. I havtf seen his draw- 
ings in another magazine tor quite a time. I 
don't like the illustrations of your other art- 
ist. Could you, by chance,! secure sn artist 
by the name of Leo Morey eft 1 Hugh Mscksyf 
They both illustrate for otper Science Fic- 
tion magazines and are atyout as good as 
Wesso. Please keep the litter. And why 
don't you have him to do all of your Qlut. 
crating? 

Sorry to seem such a grouch, but I don't 
Uke your grade of paper cither. And why 
not enlarge the magazine to about 11* a 9* 
by and charge 25 cent* for your thor- 
oughly good magazine, apart from the defects 
I have mentioned. 

About your authors. They arc, for the 
nkost part, good. But they Are mostly ama- 
teurs st writing Science Fiction stories. I 
am delighted to see such eaWrt writers of 
Sjcience Fiction as Had Vincfht, Ray Cum- 

S'lngs, Victor Rousseau- and Captain S. E. 
eek writing for your magazine, but couldni 
you include m your staff of authors A. Hyatt 
Verrill, Dr. Miles J. Breuer, Dr. David R 
Keller, R. F. Starzl, and a few more such 
notable authors? I hope to see theie authon 
in your magazine soon. — Linus HogenmiHer, 
502 N. Washington St, Faxmington, Mo. 

The Star System! 

Dear Editor: 

One star means fairly good, two stars, 
good; three stars, excellent; four, extraordi- 
nary ; no stars — just another story. 

I give "BejgandV of the Moon," by Ray 
Cummings, three stars; "The Atom-Smash er, 
by Victor Rousseau, three stars; "Murder 
Madness," by Murray Lemster, two stars; 
"Into the Ocean Depths," by S. P. Wright, 
two stars, and "The Jovian Jest," by L. Lor- 
raine, no stars. It was short and sweet 

Wesso sure can draw. I would like to sec 
a fall page illustration for each story by him. 

My favorite type of stories sre interplane- 
tary, and, second favorite, stories of future 
wars. WTfl you have many t>f them hi the 
future? I like long ytoriea bice the novelette 



.THE READERS' CORNER. 



423 



h the May issue of Astounding Stories— Jack 
Darrow, 4225 N. Spaulding Ave, Chicago, 

We Expect Not To 

Dear Editor: 

While going over yoar "The Reader*; Cor- 
ner" of the April issne, I noticed in you* an- 
swer to one of the letters that you will aWd 
reprints. Now many of your readers have 
not read the older classics of Science Fiction. 
Would it not be a good idea to publish a re- 
print at least once a year? One of the sug- 
gestions given was Merritt's '"Through the 
Dragon Glass." Another very interesting 
story, and one that I am sure almost all of 
your followers have not read, is "The Blind 
Spot," by Homer Flint. 

I like the idea of having three numbers to 
a volume, as it will be much easier to bind. 
Now, starting with the April issue, I think 
mat the best story in there is "Monsters of 
Moyen." "The Ray of Madness" was up to 
the usual standard of Capt. S. P. Meek*s sto- 
ries. 'The Han Who Was Dead" was /airly 
good; average, I would say. I did not like 
"Vampires of Venus." 

I say that the. Hay issue was the best of 
the Astounding Stories. I was satisfied with 
every story in it. "Into the Ocean Depths" 
was the best story, "The Atom Smasher" be- 
ing a close second. I like the way the story 
"Into the Ocean Depths" ended; a slight 
trace of sadness and not at all like the "and 
they lived happily ever after" ending. A real 
story. 

I was disappointed in not finding any story 
concerning Dr. Bird in the April issue. Will 
any more be printed soon? 

Before I close I would like a definite an- 
swer to this question: Will you ever, or in 
the near future, reprint any of the gems of 
Science Fiction, stories by the late master 
Garret P. Serviss, or from the pen of A Mer- 
ritt and H. C. Wells?— Nathan Greenfeld, 
318 E. 78th St., New York City. 

Again Reprints 

Dear Editor: 

Although I am a reader of six Science Fic- 
tion magazines, I was more than glad to see 
the latest one oat. Astounding Stories. Be- 
cause the stories are all interesting, I con- 
sider Astounding Stories superior to most of 
the/Science Fiction periodicals on the news- 
stands to-day. 

Hy favorite' stories are those of interplane- 
tary voyages and other worlds. My favorite 
authors are: Ray Cummings, A. Herritt, Vic- 
tor Rousseau, Hurray Leinster, Arthur J, 
Barks and Harl Vincent I hope that yon 
wiO soon have stories by Edmond Hamilton 
and David H. Keller. 

Now here is something I hope you will 
give some thought and consideration. I no- 
ticed that many of the readers wrote in, re- 
questing reprints. I am one of 'those who 
would like to see you publish some reprints, 
especially stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs, 
A. Merritt and Ray Cummings. These 



authors have written many masterpieces of 
Science Fiction. It is very difficult, if not 
impossible, for a person to get these stories. 
They could be made available easily if 
Astounding Stories would reprint them. 

Most of the readers who object to re- 
prints do so because they would hate to see 
a story by H. G. Wells or Jules Verne. I, 
myself, do not like these authors as they are 
too' dull. But if you have only reprints by 
the three authors I mentioned and a few 
other popular writers. I am sure all the read- 
ers would welcome them. At least you could 
have a vote and see how they stand on re- 
prints. — Michael Fogaris, 157 Fourth St; Pas- 
saic, N. J. 

Likes "The Readers' Corner" 

Dear Editor: 

Your "The Readers' Comer" interests me 
very much. It surely does show how your 
magazine pleases its readers. You cannot 
get too much science in your stories to suit 
me. Chemistry and physics more than any- 
thing else. 

I surely enjoyed reading "Mad Music" and 
"The Thief of Time." I don't like long sto- 
rirs They arc too interesting to have to 
wait a month for the next part 

I hope that your magazine continues to 
have as "astounding" stories as it has in the 
past— Vern L. Enrich, R. F. D. 1, Casey, Illi- 
nois. 

From Master V/einer 

Dear Editor: . 

One day coming home from school I saw 
your magazine. That night I bought it and 
have since been an ardent reader. 

But why not give ns a change? I prefer 
stories of the Sargasso Sea, the Maelstrom, 
and about invasions of the Earth. — Milton 
Werner, age 12, 2420 Baker St, Baltimore, 
Maryland. 

• High Praise 

'Dear Editor: 

Enclosed you will find twenty cents In 
stamps for the first copy of Astounding Sto- 
ries. 

I have just finished the May issue of 
Astounding Stories and the rating of the sto- 
ries is: 1 — "Brigands of the Moon" — Excel- 
lent I 2— 'The Atom Smasher" — Marvelous! 
3— "Murder Madness" — Perfect 4 — "Into the 
Ocean's Depths" — Good. 5 — The Jovian 
Jest"— Pretty Good. 

The cover design by H. Wesso Is good. 
Don't lose him. 

I would like more stories by Victor Rous- 
seau and Ray Cummings. Where are some 
stories by H. G. Wells, Stanton Coblenx, 
Gawain Edwards, Francis Flaggy Henrik 
Jarve and Dr. Keller? My favorite stories 
are interplanetary stories- 
Here are some things thst may improve 
your magazine (though I must say that your 
magazine is about perfect aa it is): More 
pictures In long stories; about two novelettes 
m each issue; about two short stories in each 



426 



ASTOUNDING STORIES 



issue; more interplanetary novels and novel- 
ettes ; about one aerial in one issue; smoother 
paper. — Isidore Horowitz, 1161 Stratford Ave- 
nue, New York City. 

"Fairly Good Satire" 

Dear Editor: 

I have read your two issues of Astound- 
ing Stories and I feel they will fill a very 
much needed place in literature. 

I am especially interested in the stories 
like the "Vampires of Venus" and the "Brig- 
ands of the Moon." The "Vampires of Ve- 
nus" can be classed as a fairly good satire 
on Earth beings; I consider that story one 
with a moraL It reminds one of Voltaire's 
Micromegas, and it's taking us to another 
planet to show us our faults at borne will 
stimulate interest in social improvement. 

I have kept tab on Edgar luce Burroughs' 
writings because he teaches evolution in a 
way that makes it easy for the ordinary 
reader to grasp. 

You have a great field, if you can keep up 
the interplanetary stories and mix some evo- 
lutionary stories with them. 

The true stories are playing a valuable part 
in stimulating people to take a deeper view 
of life, and you have a field in Astounding 
Stories almost without a competitor. — J. L. 
Stark, 830 Sutcliffe Ave, Louisville, Kentucky. 

He Is H. W. Wessolowski 

Dear Editor: 

Since 1 have read every copy of Astound- 
ing Stories since it was inaugurated I feel 
well qualified to contribute a few bouquets 
and also some criticism. The cover illustra- 
tions are wonderful but I cannot find the 
artist's name on it So good an artist should 
put his "moniker" on his productions. I am 
glad to see that the words "Super-Science" 
are on the top of the cover in bright red let- 
ters; some other Science Fiction magazines 
seem desirous of disguising the contents of 
thej£. magazines for some obscure and mys- 
tenouweason. 

And now a brickbat. It is my humble 
opinion that the science should be examined 
more carefully before the stories are printed 
m this excellent magazine. The stories should 
be not only astounding, but should contain 
some science information that win be remem- 
bered after the fiction is forgotten. "The 
Han Who Was Dead" is an excellent ghost 
story or weird tale, but is out of place in 
"oar" magazine. (I take the liberty to call 
it "our" magazine since a department is given 
over to the readers and we express our choice 
of the kind of stories that are printed.) How- 
ever, taken all together, our magazine la 
steadfiv improving; each issue dp to now has 
been distinctly better than the one before. 

I have graded the stories in the April and 
Hay conies aa follows: Excellent — "Vampires 
of Venus," "The Kay of Madness," "Brig- 



ands of the Moon," "Murder Madness," "Into 
the Ocean's Depths" and "The Jovian Jest* 
Good — "Monsters of Moyen," "The Atom 
Smasher" and "The Soul Snatcher." Poor— 
"The Man Who Was Dead." 

My favorite authors are Dr. David H. Kel- 
ler, Harl Vincent, Lillith Lcrraine, Anthony 
Pelcher, Capt. S. P. Meek, Dr. Miles J. 
Breuer and Ray Cumminga I can hardly 
wait a month for my next copy. — Wayne D. 
Bray, Campbell, Missouri. 

.Story Says Cro-Magnon^ Fled to 
Europe j 

Dear Editor: ) 

Ever since I was first / introduced to 
Astounding Stories by a coinin I have been 
a steady reader. I have not missed a single 
issue so fsr. 

I hope you will have stories by Hyatt Ver- 
ril, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Edmond Hamil- 
ton, Leslie Stone, Stanton A.1 Coblentz and 
Francia Flagg. \ 

The stories I liked best in each issue (not 
counting serials) are: "Phantoms of Reality," 
"Spawn of the Stars," "Vandals of the Stars," 
"Vampires of Venus" anil "The Atom 
Smasher." In 'The Atom Smasher" it says 
that all the Europeans descended from the 
Atlanteans. Now when the hero killed them 
all/with the disintegrating ray, would he not 
have affected their birth? 

Wesso is some artist I ssw a mistake in 
the cover of the March issue. The color of 
space is a deep black, not blue, because the 
blue color of the heavens when viewed from 
the earth is due to the reflection of light by 
the atmosphere. — George Ilrande, 141 So. 
Church St, Schenectady, N. Y. 

"The Readers' Corner" 

All Readers are extended a sincere 
and cordial invitation to "come over 
in 'The Readers' Comer' " and join in 
our monthly discussion of stories, 
authors, scientific principles and possi- 
bilities—everything that's <sjf common 
Interest in connections' with our 
Astounding Stories. 

Although from time to time the Edi- 
tor may make a comment or so, this is 
a I department primarily for Readers, 
and we want you to make full use of 
it. Likes, dislikes, criticisms, explana- 
tions, roses, brickbats, suggestions— 
everything's welcome here; so "come 
over in 'The Readers' Comer' " and dis- 
cuss it with all of us I 

— The Editor. 



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Electrle Uchtlna 
Weldlnf, Electric and Oaa 
Besdlnf Shop Blueprint* 
Telegraph Knjrlneer 
Talepbone Work 
Uaclunlcal Enalneer 
Uechanleal Dnftacaan 
■lar h Lai it □ Tuol maker 
Pattern maker 
Plnelltur □ TlninUlb 
Brldfa Enrlnrrr 
Brlilea xntl llulldlns Foreman 
Oaa Enslnea □ Diesel Enilnea 
AvUlloD ICaglnoi 



Automolillo Ideebaale 
Plumblnc d Steam ntllog 
BeaUns rTVenlUaUaa 
Hbeel Metal VVottar 
ti Learn Enalneer 
Hteam Electric E 
ClrU Engineer 
HurreylDg and Mapplnf 
Befr Ice ration 
B. H. laoeumoUrea 
B. B. Bertlon Foreman 
B.H. Bridge and Huildtu Foreinan 
Air Brake* □ Train Opera lion 
Ulgtiway Englneaiiiui 
Chamliltr □ Pharmacy 
Coal Ulnlnc Enalnaar 
NarlaaUon □ Boilermaker 
Teil lit Oreraear or SupL 
Cot bat Manufaetorlna 
Woolen Hanuraeturanf 
Agrkultura □ t'rult OroRlag 
Poultry farm log Q Battlio 
Marina Englnear 



BUSINESS TRAINING COURSES 



Butlne*! ManacemenL 
Office Manactmanl 
IndLUirlal Managanient 
PaTunnd ManagrmcDt 
Trafllc Manaaemerd 
.ictminuiary CK-'Dii AasunUnt 
C. P. Aeeounlant 
Bookkeeping 
SecrcUrlel Work 
Saanlah O French 
SalaimaBihiD □ Adrertuunf 

Name 

AJJj-cH 
City. 

Oceui>ail,.n .... 

// »ov rarWa im Coxa da, tmd fii* fvaaavi to /»« /n/waatlawal Cu- 
lapundmm ButwtU, Coaakdtaa. LimM<4, MonUeai. C tm»4 * 



Bui I oei ■ CorratDsndt 
Lett rr In: SIvjv Cardi _ 
BUnography and Typing 
Complete Comnverclal 
CIrll S err Ira □ aUll Cirrlal 
Ballway Uall Clerk 
arada Hehnol Bub J acta 
High School Subjtcla 
Collate Praoaraioey 
niutirftlng □ Cirtawnlng 
' — — Dealer 




Leant Electricity 



In U WMto-h the Ortmt Shops of Copma 

Tbe wt~B>lo world of al ucti ldtr b opto to the Cojne trained man 
hmnar tfc* COYNE bta, newt* •olargwJ coura* is eompUtt and 
trains jm BY ACTUAL WORK on a vuloattav of electrical 
anolnmant. NO BOOKS- NO CLASSES -STAHT ANY TIME. 

NOT A COaUaUPOKDZNCE SCHOOL 
Wa 6Wt make von a nwra *>aper'' abetridan. You bccoms A 
no! BXpEBT through actus! work at COYNE. 

YOU DO NT NOD ADVANCED KDWCATIOM 
• owteMl hat — "tin H ■aahtUn— and ■ niias mIth ■! Ckjiua_ 

m UUN TO IAIN fa»* TO AO» A MONTH 

No books or aniaii tMorr. You an trained on averythNpe from 

?wtfc©«Ei^ 



rAVOT BLSCTIUCAI, SCHOOL 
tUIilU SOIlFi ■ i*uO»pt M.Chk«o 

COYW EUCIBM. KMOL, ■, C. Uwt*, Prao. 
0OO >. MatBna ■*_ Pa**. CO-AO, CMcac*. lit. 

PlMtind wrar Fna. UtaBtmtcd Hook on ElartrldtTKod 
Oojm. No obligation. Gin details of apacul offer tea. 



*We Paid 93 



' To KlHtaO for One Week's Work 

k You can do as wdl. Show wonderful values In 
union-made tailored- lo-order Suits and Over- 
coats. Take orders easy. Higjnt earning!. Dally 
— 1 liberal bonus. No experience required, 
men aavellD toSIS. SatialacUon iuana- 
teed or money back. Repeat orders, 



JUlu 



| 150 fabrics, carry. 
I ing case and supplies, free* 

F Write atonce (or local tmitory. 
Give complete details (or imme- 
diate consideration. Outfit free. 

j fsoneeb taixobuvc ^ 

MUdTbxoopSU. 



-cKli 



Bochmin's Fibre limb 




l 1 DCKTCU CO, CIO 3d tit. SO. HHHEAPOUS, Din 




Sffi SHAPE YOUR NOSE 



Anita Nose Adjuster thanes firsh 
and cartilape — quickly, safely, pain, 
lessly, while you sleep or work. 
Luting results. Gold Medal Win- 
ner. Doctors approve it. 78.000 
users. Write (or FREE BOOKLET. 

ANITA INSTITUTE 




You May bo Anotkor 

RUDY VAUf 

"IN TH ■ ROUGH" 

Unpopular at college'. Body ovrtrdrwaW 
a AUoplione coola tnako him fatatatM 
rich. tta; bo you co lid do the nam sail 



You, too. may bo flwther Rorty ~m\ n» 
rough.'' GivayourstUafjwtrJaL 

CASV TO PLA'f, EASY TO MY 
Hasterscak* In oim hour % nay hsawta* 
week; Joio a baud In 2 to 3 axaUaaTlfaa 
PJ-u quick, ea*y rUrt. Fuabwt 



) poo today for b«wtffar*eatgSL 

No obligation. D< it right now. "«j 
BUBSCHEB BANDINSTHUMEJrrcn. 
• 11 Pawner BJocfc 



AGENTS I $14 ADAY 

Get into ihc big money cla 
Amazing chance to make $14 

a day. Wonderful new plan. 350 Hi|;h 
Quality Products at low prices. Every- 
one a household necessity. All fist 
sellers. IIik orders in every home. 
.Repeat business. Steady income. 

New Plan— Big Profile 

We hIujw you new way to build per 
men to i bu'inc^-. Hid profits from 
tbe Man. Sraro or full time. No 
capital or cipentmcc required. Ford 
Tudor Sedan frr* to producers as 
eura reward. Write now. 

Amerloan Products Co. 

5947 Monmouth Avt, Cincinnati, Oh io 



Reiponeible Hf'r Guarantees New Shirts for every 
one that Shrinks or Fades. Selling; like Wildfin. . 
blssest Profits ! Complete line includes f 
weir. Hosiery, Underwesr and Joeketi. " 
■ONDCO SHIRT I 
•ft FIFTH AVE., M 






FRI-NCH 

LOVE DROI 




drops in *couth. Full 

B8o. prepaid of SI. 39 ('. 0. D. 
postage. Direct HAS with mry o 
FREE: 1 full -ue bottle if 
order 3 rials. D'ORO CC 
Box 90, Varid Station. Nnr 
Df H. HSGt 



TOBACC 

Haktfaerca 



0 



.aaM^Mlhii^ifpaUSUPEHBACO.. <ll. 6Mrcn,IH 




ACCWfANT 



Please mention Newsstand Group— Men's List, when answering advertisements 



GOVT. POSITIONS 

35 TO ^75 WEEKLY 



) Kj. Mill C I ork 

y p. o. Laborer 
| % W. 3R Carrier 



> BpaMal 

) Custor 



, Horns Imp. 

ICltj Mall Carrier 
Ural Irupector 
P. O. Clark 
nie Clert 
) General Clerk 
) Matron 



Htaoo-TTplit 
lmmlinnt Im; 

, Auditor' 
) SKmo-Recrrtary 
) U. 8. Border Patrol 
) ChaufTeur-Carritr 
) Watchman 
> flkllled Laborer 




MAKE MONEY 
SELLING SHIRTS 



Show Shirts, Ties* Underwear. Cuaran* 
trod Cull year. Moat complete •election. 
Cbm an Infill no eubatltutlona. Roaecllff 
— old Ktnbliilinl manufacturer ajlvee I r *■ t- 
moooffram. froo poataice and real value. 
You C*t big rommUilon* in advance, 
war own ehlrta and cash bonusea. Write 
■aw for FREE outfit. Dept. J-» 

Mcfif Shirt Co., 1237 Broadway, N. Y. 



LAsJpH agents wanted 



AGENTS WANTED 

Ttrtpnuni ulJ aalahliahad Aim and Uka 
ndui. Makr >ti< M-nar d«fl Bur 

erropl,!* Una diract lo ■■war. Shirta of nil 
kin.].. Nafkwaar, Unrfarwaaj, Hoi. Paja- 
iu>. Niahl Snirl^, s.r.w., I^r.-.ia-.. 
('...rraJ!.. I'inl.. K>dm< Jlr*»cb« and ChU. 



is 



No Joke To Be Deaf 



I 



— EVERY deaf person knows that 

Ocofta P. Way made hliueelf bear, alter being deaf for 
26 yean, with ArtlnelaJ Bat Drums 
-his own Invention. Ho wore them 
day and lujat. Tbeyetuppwl head 
aobea r~' 



note* and 
Ittvaabtoaiu,. 
No one aces them. Write for hie 
true story. ' How I Cot l>eat and 
Made Myself Hear." ALto book- 
let c« Deafness. Addrea 



ArttficUli 



A RAILWAY TRAFFIC INSPECTOR 



AY-BUS. fSm UP TO S2SO MONTHLY 

— It to U-.oMdad at one a la t.. and 
pacUoo. Thi* alaadr. proeulila arntk 

_ . par month pint axprruaa InlacraiW 

work. Traral or ramaln naar homa. We'll 
- - ati.d pn.faawun. mn.tari.r . r.w 
' Oplac* 




r from f 120 up M 
lat tall, vlat TrtfSf !<-.(.« 
i. Sand far It tudar. 



Out of Our Dolls! 



swaey girl weald like io have eae of oar beautifnl 
tnmth FUppar Delia. Hara La mm opportunity lo awl one 
" * very law price. Theas dolls wen originally aaede 
sett ail far 12.50. 

TW dolt, placed on a bed or boudoir eh air, dream 
■» J*e pleea aad mum It look very lovely. 

V* bar* m limited aapplr oa head aad era eellisg 
— ■ "T 9Um aaeh, pbaa 10*. for paeiage. 



NOVELTY COMPANY, 
1*0 9b, New Yorb, N. Y. 

please find tl.10 far oae of yonr beaallful 
FUppar Doll.. 



_4 



Fa LEARN AT HOME TO BE A rw\ 

Radio exper! 



Radars laaulni prawth k asaslss 
nundrada af $90. fa. trBlesd ||as 
b weak Jebs tvary jaw 

Get one of those fine totaj for your te If. 
Broadcasting 8l alloc t. CommarciaJ Land 
But Ions. Manufacturers, Dealeri. Job- 
berg. Ships, Aviation. Talklni Movies ere 
continually netdlof well trained Radio 
torn. I'll train you it home In .your 
■pare time to be ■ Radio Expert. My 
enlirrrj and Imnrored court* with 8 
Ouil.u nf Kadlo i.tij for e Home Fa- 

Kr I mental LilioraturT mates learning at 
me tux, fascinating. 

Hake extra ■•nay while learnlsf 

Th<re la nn-d In every neighborhood tat 
men ulio really knuiv bow to locate irou- 
blea In aeu and reralr them. I'll (how 
you how to do the >o>» and how la Bet 
Many N. R. I. men make 1100 



It telli you about Radio's rpare Lime and 
full itme oppHiriLinltlr*. my coarse and 
LlMlirif- Kmpluymrm Service. You tren't 
Obllfa^ youraclf. Do It NOW. 

J. E. SMITH. PraldtBt. Dept OKU 
Hat'l ft ad hi Initltute. Watkleiue. D. 0. 

MiJ.UJ.I.».l!l.llJ.U»J^ / 

J. E. Basltb, Pret.. 
National Radio inilttirbi, OiaLoKM 
Waihlnatoo. 0. C 
Dear Mr. Kmlih:— Send me your free book, t under- 
aland tlilm rrqural dwi not obllcete ma and thai no 
acrr.t will call 

Name 



IFOR THOUSANDS OF HEN 

\TOBACCO HABIT 
V/lNs*^ banished 
-Let Jk Help Tm 



Stop craving; tobacco in any form. 
Tobacco Rede a mar in most cases relieves 
all craving; for it in a few days' time. Doo't try 
to quit the tobacco habit unaided. It's often a 
joalnjr flffht against heavy odds, aad may mean a dla- 
treaaina; chock to tho nervous system. Let T baeeo , 
Bedeeaner help the habit to quit you. It Is pleasant tD 
Bsc, acta quJckly ( and la thoroughly n liable. 

Not a Sakstltate 

Tobacco Redeemer contain* no habU-forrjun4T 
drotTBOf any kind. It Is In no sense a substitute for 
tobacco. Aftnr finishing the treatment, there should 
be do desire to use tobacco again or to continue the 
use of the remedy. In case the treatment la not per- 
fectly satisfactory, wo will gladly refund any money 
paid. It makes not a panicle of difference how long 
tobacco baa .been used, how much it Is used, or la 
what fdrm— whether it Is cigars, cigarettes, pipe, 
plug, fine cut or snuff. In moat cases. Tobacco Ra- 
derrnf r rnmnrna oil craving for tobacco In any form 
In a very few daya. And remember. It is offered with 
a positive money-hack guarantee. Write today for 
oar free bookletshowlng the injurious effect of to- 
bacco upon the human system and convincing eti- 
damce that Tobacco Redeemer has relieved the crav- 
ing for tobacco in thousands of i**"* 1 

NEWEU. PHARMACAL COMPANY 
DaaLTRS. 



I 



Please mention Newsstand Ghoup — Men's List, when answering ailverti-^ments 



Does She Love You Enough? 

Give a Thought to Your Physical 



H rour wife or sweetheart uu nol ud dissatisfied with 
you, fin ■ Utouihl lo tout physical self. A woman looks 



WboD tou bear a woman eiclalm "Oh. what ■ hand- 
mu manl" she's aoi looking at till faeo alone. Bhe'a 
ilinl him up from top to loo. Those broad about den. 
thai graceful athletic rtrlde. the well-shaped neck and 
bead, those tlroni. muscular anna and legi. They thrill 
nay woman. Erery wife and erery sweetheart wants bcr 
bub U be like that. Art svof 

W*U. pow ten fle/ 

I bald Suteg, Hatdnaw, Beallbj Bodies 

People call me the Muscle- Builder. I make mcn'a bodice 
■trwai and bealthj. Uy lift of mr 190.999 wonderful 
eiirrr— oa lauludea doctors - Bad lawyer*, bookkeepers and 
clerkj, grandfathers and grandsons, fat men and skinny 
men, weaklings and nerroua wrecks. By a method of 
eelenlLAc body building I go all over your body, strongth- 
enlng your Internal organs, broadening rour shoulder i. 
cutting off fat, and acnenily lurelu you uuLde out un- 
til you're a healthy, *"■"*■"»" fighting be-man any woman 
will be proud of. 

In Just ■• day* I add one whole Inch of lln. fleilble 
gteuly muscle- to each of your arms and two full lochcx of 
rlppllnf. muscular strength across your chest. Your leia 
wiU become stralihi sod stranf. your head snap bark 
end. and Utile lumps or* red-blooded muscle will begin 
to stand out on your braadsnlne (boulders. What s_Klt 
ion an gains u> make with that 
proud ana happy she will bel 



girl 



90 Dart mm Tea nare use 

Bat Pn set through with no rn. I don't rank* men 
by bains. Give me lust 19 dsyi more and then look 
yourself onr. Now mi sura an oamebodyl The path- 
way to happiness and sucteis la esiy. 

People will ask to msct yuo. Horcestful business men 
will realize that bare Is another nun lo accept as one 
of their own group. Your boas will treat you with a 
new rmapoel. and that girl of youn will have that look 
of Ion and affection la bar eyea that In Itself will mors 
then repay fun. 

I Dt Mm Tin Praue ; I Curufet k 

With • body lib thai the thrill of tiring la aa gnat bj 
the thrill you gel when you fall In Ion. If* wonderful I 
Just check off on youi fingers what such a body gins you 

pep. ntailty. health, strength. Ion, affection— enry- 
Ihlng a sun desires. 

What a picture you'll be In a bathing suit I What a 
sight in a gymnasliunl You'll be a magnet for all 
women's eym That healthy. aLggreaalTO, erect itrldo of 



U. Jtet 

well, thai '4 the story la ■ net-shall. If you're man 
■si ugh to work a little for the sake of your strength, 
•oceans ud happiness. Just alt right down and mall mo 
this eowpon. It won't coat you a nanny, and you emu 
so* far yourself why thouaanda of man hare 
fctiK EAtla LUdarman. {ha " 




EARLE UEDERMAN— The Murcle Build* 
Author of "MwneU BuQding." 
of Strnotk," "Hdrrt J 



"Seienct of WrMtKna," "Sm>m 
. HmUkT ram*." cie. ; \ 




Dept. 170t, tttl Bnudsriy, New York City 

Dear sir: — Ptoses sand me. absolutely TBXX end 
► without any obligation on mj pert whaUnr, a copy of 
ywar latent book. "Miiaalar PorilopmaM - 



(Plaosw ssrtso or artel sJeUJr ) 



• 4 -page 



rutl 



"Muscular Development'* ; wUJ 

it what I do for you end i 
This booh onatalaa 41 full nag* 

winning poplla 1 ban trained. Many of thcia wen _ 
Look at I baa now I Tou will marrcl at their J fey lionet. This sawhwil 
thrill yon. 1 want yuu to ban a copy for the i«ke of your future hseasi 
noes.--' so send today do It bow be "ore you tarn asm ■»■»■ 



' you and what I ban done far emwa, 
» photographs U mywdf aad MPfha 
Many of thei* wen plUfml ■*> 



EARLE 



DEPT. 170S 



UEDERMAN 

k\. NEW YOSK 



Please mention Newsstand Ghoup — Men's List, when answering i 



They g 



ave a neW 



Thrill 



THAT S WHY THEY COT THERE ... SO QUICKLY 

LITTLE STORIES 
OF FAST SUCCESSES 

fi.SUMBF.R OSF\ JIMMY FOXX 

"Look at those shoulders! That 
boy's a natural-born batting won- 
der." Jimmy Foix was just a 
rookie when Canny Connie Mack 
gave him that size-up. Four years 
later he was crowding the swat 
kings of both leagues for the bat- 
ting championship. 

Just so Old Go lid rose from a 
rookie brand to a big league leader 
in four years' time. Better tobaccos 
.. .free from irritants . . . ThatV 
why O. G. has outsold three othvr 
leading brands combined, in alike 
period of their eilstehce. / 




On* year before Jimmy FOXX 
Wofd the • - .VV* he whs milking 
»»iln Maryland Knur yearn later 
wan one uf the cmitest hitters 
In butball. 



BETTER TOBACCOS 



J 

T A COUGH IN X CARL 



O A D 1 



Now for a Camel! 



(iaimT* mellow fragrance 
heighten* every pleasure 
— a t iparelle maile for 
real r*moke eiijoymenl. 




Don't deny yourself 
the luxury of 

Camels 

IQ.in. n. J. hUtnnld* Tobarro Company, Tin •tnn-Salrm, N. C